And check out our recap from the Michigan State vs. Northern Michigan came that capped off Hockey Day in Michigan for the MiHockey crew. (Michael Caples/MiHockey)

Spartans top Wildcats on Hockey Day in Michigan

Chris Forfar's goal in the third period turned out to be the game-winner for the Spartans on Hockey Day in Michigan. (Michael Caples/MiHockey)

By Stefan Kubus –

EAST LANSING – Michigan State had representation from all ages on the scoresheet Saturday night in East Lansing.

Junior Lee Reimer, freshman Mike Ferrantino, senior Chris Forfar and sophomore Tanner Sorenson lit the lamp for the Spartans, en route to a 4-2 win over Northern Michigan in Saturday night’s rubber match. The Wildcats took Friday night’s contest, 5-3.

Head coach Tom Anastos said he was a little concerned with how his team would respond after Friday night’s loss, but that was quickly erased after a strong opening 20 minutes.

“Given the way the season has gone to date and given how the first period went, and to walk into the dressing room a goal behind after playing maybe our best period of the season, and then falling behind again during the course of the game, I really liked the resilience, the mental toughness that our team showed today,” Anastos said.

Forfar, an alternate captain for MSU, credited his teammates for doing a great job getting to the net Saturday night.

“It’s nice to finally get some shots through,” Forfar said. “The CCHA is notorious for blocking shots and sacrificing the body. They did a great job of blocking shots. The defense was poised at the blue line, they got the shots through, and the forwards did a good job tonight getting to the net and getting the second-chance opportunities.”

It was a rather odd first period for the Spartans, coming out with tons of firepower and sustained pressure in the Wildcats’ zone. And despite a 19-3 shot advantage in the opening frame, it was Northern Michigan who skated off the ice up 1-0.

On their second shot of the game, defenseman Mitch Jones let a wrister go from the point that found its way in the back of the Spartans’ goal through traffic.

The second period was a much more back-and-forth affair, and the Spartans managed to tie things up. Shorthanded, MSU captain Greg Wolfe sprung Reimer with a breakaway pass. Reimer fired a low blocker shot past goaltender Jared Coreau to make it a 1-1 game.

Anastos said that the nifty play was completely developed by the players’ awareness on the ice, but that he did change up his team’s penalty kill strategy for the weekend to be more aggressive.

Though it was more balanced first period, the Spartans continued to hold a massive shot advantage over the Wildcats after 40 minutes, 25-8.

At the 5:06 mark of the third period, Brian Nugent made it a 2-1 game for the Wildcats, slapping a rebound home on the backhand.

Halfway through the period, Ferrantino sent a rebound to the top shelf over Coreau’s glove to tie things up at two.

“It started off a face-off,” Ferrantino said of his goal. “We were trying to go to the net with it, it bounced around and eventually made it back to our point. Boyd had a good point shot, it bounced around a couple times again, and I was fortunate enough to find it and put it home. It was awesome to get a goal and tie the game.”

And it was Forfar’s short-side beauty that put the Spartans up 3-2 at the 11:16 mark, a shot that the MSU alternate captain said he snuck between Coreau’s right arm and his body, from just in front of the goal line when it looked like there was no room.

“I think it snuck in between his arm and his body,” Forfar said of his goal. “I think it snuck in between there. He’s a big goalie, he stops the first shot always, our game plan was to get a lot of shots and bury rebounds, and you saw that with Ferrantino’s goal, the puck landed right on his stick and he buried it.”

Forfar also has a connection with Northern Michigan’s netminder from their days with Lincoln in the USHL.

“Coreau’s a good goalie,” Forfar said. “Actually, we live next door to each other in Lincoln. We have the same housing family, so I know his housing family really well. They’re all here this weekend, and it’s nice to see them again. He’s a great goalie, I got one to sneak in on him, and got rewarded.”

Sorenson added an insurance goal with under a minute left in the game with Coreau pulled for the 4-2 final.

With a crowd of 6,573 on hand at Munn Ice Arena, that’s the fourth sellout of the year – in those four games, the Spartans are 4-0-0 – for Michigan State, something Anastos said helped spark his squad.

“Boy, what a great crowd tonight,” Anastos said. “I think the crowd energized our team. I hope our team energized the crowd in that first period, in particular. It was nice to see. I know how bad guys felt last night after. Our whole team felt bad after last night’s result, so it was good to see us able to regroup and come and put together an effort like we did tonight.”

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