Spartans Skate To 4-4 Tie With Maine

Michigan State opened up the season Thursday night with Hockey East power house Maine who came into the game with two games already under their belt (1-0-1) and nationally ranked in the top 10.

Coming into this season after losing their top two goal scorers from a year ago to the pro's the common perception early on for this team was it would have trouble scoring, not so opening night.

Michigan State got on the board first just 5 minutes and 8 seconds into the game thanks to an unassisted power play goal by Alternate Captain #10 Dustin Gazley.

The Black Bears turned that tie ballgame into a 3-1 lead with a pair of goals just over two minutes apart. The second goal came when Mike Cornell put back a shot at the left post for his first career tally, and at 15:29, Joey Diamond scored his third of the season while skating on the man advantage.

The teams went end-to-end during the first 12 minutes of the second period, skating a much cleaner game without penalties. MSU cut into the lead at 8:23; MSU had sustained some pressure in its offensive zone, and Derek Grant did a nice job of battling for the puck and keeping it low. Daultan Leveille collected the puck at the half wall, wheeled out to the top of the right circle, and put a shot on net that was initially saved by Sirman, but trickled past him and into the left side of the net.

Kevin Walrod headed to the box on a tripping call (earned on a hard-work breakup of a Maine breakaway) to give Maine its first power play chance of the second period. After MSU did a nice job on blocking passing lanes for the opening minute of the man advantage, blueliner Josh Van Dyk slid a pass from right to left along the blueline to Abbott at the left point, and he fired an absolute laser that went through traffic and beat Palmisano glove-side for a 4-2 lead.

Theo Andersson was whistled for a five-minute major for hitting from behind when he put a hit on Torey Krug just inside the blue line of the Spartans' offensive zone it at 14:40; Adam Shemansky went to the box to serve out the five-minute major while the Spartans attempted to cut into the lead once again. Maine's PK was aggressive on the puck, killing off the first 2:30 of the penalty without allowing the Spartans to set up inside their offensive zone. The Spartans pulled within 4-3 with a Brett Perlini goal at 17:40 - Gazley brought the puck across the blue line at the right wall and put it on the stick of Perlini, who was trailing the play. Perlini took a stride into the right circle placed a slapshot which beat Sirmans.

The Spartans took a five-minute major, when Krug was whistled for boarding in the final minute of the second frame, putting the dangerous Maine power-play unit into effect.

Coming on for the third period, MSU was doing a great job of being aggressive on the kill, which created a shorthanded odd-man rush; Trevor Nill made a great pass to classmate Mike Merrifield, who buried his first of the season. With that goal the crowd of over 5000 fans erupted in cheers for the green and white skaters.

"We played a legit team and we were able to compete and fight back and that enforces teaching points." Says coach Comley after the opening night 4-4 tie, which marks the first time that Michigan State drew even in a opening game under Rick Comley.

Michigan State completes the 2 game series against Maine tomorrow night, puck drop at 7:35pm.

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