Losing in overtime of a playoff game hurts, but having that game be decided by a penalty hurts more.
Northern Michigan has handed Michigan State some painful losses this season, but on Sunday they handed them the most painful loss of all.
Matt Butcher scored nine minutes into the first overtime of the third and decisive game of the CCHA quarterfinals to give Northern Michigan a 3-2 win.
Nobody from MSU was too pleased after the game that Butcher's goal came on the power-play.
"I was surprised there was a penalty called in overtime, but maybe he saw it from a different angle," said Daniel Vukovic. "In overtime, it's a hard call to make but he made it and stuck with it
Senior captain Bryan Lerg was called for a boarding penalty midway through the first overtime, which set up the dramatic win for the Wildcats, which means that for the first time since 1991, Michigan State will not be playing at Joe Louis Arena in the CCHA championships.
After MSU took the first game in convincing fashion on Friday, NMU played their type of game on Saturday, shutting down MSU for a 2-1 win, setting up Sunday's decisive game.
The Wildcats scored the first goal for the sixth time in seven meetings on Andrew Sarauer's late first period tally.
But as they have done all season against NMU, the Spartans answered back early in the second on a goal by Bryan Lerg.
But the Wildcats would pull ahead on Phil Fox's goal with five minutes to play in the second period just as Matt Schepke's was coming out of the penalty box.
But with their backs against the wall, down 2-1 with less than five minutes left, Nick Sucharski would net a dramatic late game-tying goal that would send the game into overtime for the second straight night.
The Spartans controlled the game and applied constant offensive pressure on goalie Brian Stewart, who stopped 41 MSU shots for the second straight night.
But the Wildcats would play tight defense, trap MSU in the neutral zone, and did everything they could without laying in front of their goal to block shots. The Wildcats also killed off two 5-on-3 MSU power-plays, one each in the first and second periods.
In the end it was their patience in overtime to wait for their chances, which ended up being Lerg's penalty.
The loss is even more painful for MSU because they now play a painful waiting game to see whether they make the NCAA tournament or their season is over and the seniors have played their final game.
Rick Comley's Post-Game Remarks:
Daniel Vukovic's Ramarks:
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Northern Michigan Crushes MSU in OT
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