Once again, the Spartans found themselves behind by two goals at the end of two periods, and once again they rallied in the third.
The Purple Eagles then extended their lead to two in the second period with a power play goal from senior forward Giancarlo Iuorio.
The third period began with Michigan State scoring off the sticks of captain Greg Wolfe and freshman forward Matt DeBlouw. Their goals left the game at 2-2 midway through the third. However, Niagara answered later in the third period with a goal from freshman forward Dan Kolenda to put the game at 3-2 Purple Eagles. Yet, just when Niagara thought they had the second game win, Michigan State sophomore forward Brent Darnell tied the game up with just 49.4 seconds left on the clock.
After a scoreless overtime period Darnell scored in the shootout – the only skater to do so – sealing the shootout win for the Spartans. Michigan States record now sits at 1-2-1 at end of the series.
The Spartan penalty kill continued to be strong, shutting down four out of five Niagara power plays. However, the Spartan power play was once again completely ineffective. They did not convert on their own single power play chance and gave up a short-handed goal during the opportunity. Michigan State has yet to score on a regular five on four power play this season. They have converted on just one power play out of twelve over the last four games, and that one conversion came on a five on three opportunity.
Junior captain Greg Wolfe now leads the team with four points (1 goal and 3 assists). The Spartans have eight goals on the season and all eight have come in third periods.
While the Spartans did win the series, they have glaring issues to address before moving forward. If they are going to continue to win hockey games they need to find some life on the power play unit and also not allow themselves to fall behind early. Having to play catch up in the third is the last scenario any team wants to be in.
The Spartans will take the momentum from these pair of wins to Sault Ste. Marie this weekend to face-off in a series against conference rival Lake Superior State.