The Michigan State hockey team ran into some wildlife in Marquette, Mich., losing to Northern Michigan 3-1 Friday night. The loss is just the Spartans second of the season in an opponent's arena — their only other a season-opening loss to top-ranked North Dakota — and drops them to 14-5-3 in conference (18-7-5 overall).
Northern Michigan's Nick Sirota was the star of the evening with a hat trick — the first allowed by the Spartans in over two years — before the end of the second period.
Michigan State goaltender Jeff Lerg, who was the National Player of the Month in January, has struggled recently, allowing 10 goals in the last three games. He allowed 10 in the entire month of January.
Michigan State trailed 3-0 late into the third period when defenseman Jeff Dunne scored his first goal of the season on a power play at 17:42. The Spartans were an anemic 1-13 with 16 shots on the power play.
While the Spartans played well short handed, holding the Wildcats to 1-9 on the power play, their failure to capitalize on the power play contributed to the loss. In the third period alone, Northern Michigan racked up 25 minutes worth of penalties, including a game misconduct on Alan Dorich for checking from behind.
On a bright note, Lerg moved past former Spartan-great and Hobey Baker Award winner Ryan Miller on the Michigan State all-time saves list. He is now sixth with 2,605 saves.
Michigan State remains in third place in the CCHA with 31 points behind Michigan (37) and Miami (34).
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