When No. 9 Michigan last met intrastate rival Michigan State on the ice, Kevin Porter left the ice with a bitter taste in his mouth. Yes, the Wolverines battled back to even with the Spartans in the final moments of regulation, but, as time trickled off the clock in overtime, Porter had a chance to end it with a shot from point blank range that flew just high and wide of the Michigan State net.
"I had thought about it for a long time," Porter said. "And today I thought it was payback."
After a scoreless first period that saw U-M goalie Billy Sauer turn aside five MSU shots, including a Justin Abdelkader penalty shot, Porter scored a pair of goals in the second frame to lead the Michigan offense past No. 11 Michigan State 5-2, and earn a birth in Saturdays CCHA Championship game.
"I thought it was a typical Michigan-Michigan State game," said Michigan coach Red Berenson, who now must prepare his team for No. 1-ranked Notre Dame. "Michigan State had us on our heels in the first period and had some good chances on their power play, and they had a penalty shot. That was key that Billy Sauer made that save."
After Sauer's penalty shot save, it was all Michigan. Just 3:07 into the second, Michigan went up 1-0 on a breakaway goal from Chris Summers. With a full head of steam heading into the Spartan zone, Summers picked up the puck after Tim Miller tipped it onside into the Spartans defensive zone. A quick deke to the backhand baited Michigan State goalie Jeff Lerg to bite, and Summers shot deflected off the netminder and into the Michigan State net.
One minute and four seconds later, Porter made it 2-0. Crashing the left post, Porter tapped the puck across the goal line after Hensick drew Lerg to the near post with the two-on-one rush.
"T.J. and I have done this a million times. When Hensick gets (the puck) on that side, I just go as hard as I can to the back door, and he usually just banks it right off my stick. So, usually, I don't have to do too much work."
David Rohlfs nearly pushed the lead to three goals near the middle of the frame. After creating a turnover while on the penalty kill, Rohlfs skated in alone on Lerg but fired a shot off the post.
Porter did make it 3-0 with 4:13 left, however. Porter carried the puck into the Michigan State zone, and, while being knocked off balance, threw the puck at the Michigan State net and beat Lerg's left skate.
Michigan outshot the Spartans 16-13 through two periods.
Jim McKenzie got the Spartans on the board with under seven minutes left on the clock. McKenzie threw a puck at the Michigan net and beat Sauer's glove before the Michigan goalie could react. The Spartans momentum was short lived, however, and Chad Kolarik answered with the fourth Michigan goal within the minute.
Michigan State and Michigan would trade one more goal each over the final five minutes in the 5-2 Michigan win.
The No. 9-ranked Wolverines now meet No. 1 Notre Dame in the CCHA Championship at 7:00 on Saturday night. Notre Dame defeated Lake Superior State 3-0 in the opening game of the semifinal round.
Icers Breeze Past MSU 5-2; Meet ND in Finals
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