Michigan romps past Michigan State, 9-2
East Lansing — Before the season, Michigan coach Red Berenson was concerned where the Wolverines scoring would come following the loss of high-scoring forwards Dylan Larkin, Zach Hyman and Andrew Copp to the professional ranks.
The No. 8 Wolverines again proved Berenson had nothing to worry about following an impressive 9-2 victory over Michigan State Friday night before 6,013 at Munn Arena.
It was the most goals allowed by the Spartans on their home ice since Jan. 26, 1991, an 8-1 loss to Western Michigan.
It could be interesting when the teams play again at 7 p.m. Saturday at Yost Arena in Ann Arbor since the play was chippy at times during the final period and a half.
The Wolverines (12-3-3, 3-1-1), who led the nation in scoring (3.82 goals a game) last season, had five different players score during a stretch of 5:39 in the opening period to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 5-2 advantage. And the goals came against Spartans senior goaltender Jake Hildebrand, who was an All-American a year ago, the majority to the high side.
The line of junior captain JT Compher (two goals, three assists), freshman Kyle Connor (two goals, three assists) and junior Tyler Motte (goal, two assists) combined for five goals and 13 points for the Wolverines, who again lead the nation in scoring (4.60).
“It’s the first time for me playing in the rivalry against State so it was pretty exciting going in,” said Connor, who leads the Big Ten in goals (14) and points (30) while having just one fewer goal than Larkin did all of last season. “There was a little bit of nerves, but once the puck dropped and we started playing they went away. They (Spartans) scored the first one there, but we rebounded great with three straight and we were really on a groove from there.”
When asked to talk about his line, Connor replied: “It’s nothing special. We just from Day 1 put the emphasis on hard work and trying to work them down low and today we just had a little more odd-man rushes and I think we capitalized on those and really used our skill.”
The Spartans (5-14-2, 1-4-0) took a 1-0 lead on Mason Appleton’s goal before Compher started the scoring barrage for the Wolverines, skating in alone on Hildebrand from the left side and flipping the puck over his right shoulder at the 12:43 mark to pull the Wolverines even.
Sophomore Tony Calderone took Justin Selman’s pass from the behind the net and beat Hildebrand with a shot from the high slot for a power-play goal just 57 seconds later for a 2-1 lead. Then, Boo Nieves dug out a loose puck in the corner and found Alex Kile, who one-timed a high shot from atop the left circle that got behind Hildebrand for a 3-1 cushion.
Possibly the prettiest goal was one from Connor which gave the Wolverines a 4-2 lead with 2:20 left in the first after Zach Osburn’s power-play goal pulled the Spartans within 3-2.
Compher, from the right corner, found Connor with a rink-wide pass and Connor flipped the puck from the left crease high over Hildebrand’s shoulder.
“It was kind of late towards the end of the power play and I saw him sneak down on the back door and I was able to make a pass and it was lucky to get through,” said Compher.