A much better start tonight for the Nanooks, as they got an early lead and kept their foot on the accelerator. Unfortunately, Colton Beck would not get to be on the ice tonight to enjoy it. It honestly saddened me to see the junior left winger in a suit sitting in a chair watching while his team warms up. A bit emotional for me, but I know he's a bit twisted inside as he looks onto watch his team taking care of business.
In the first period, Beck's line mates got it done as Nik Yaremchuk had to sit for an interference call 8:18 into the opening frame. After a great first shift by Henderson and Taranto, the 2nd PK forward unit of Morley and Kunyk capitalized on a great outlet feed from Colton Parayko. Morley made the entrance, and hustled for a 2 on 1. As they crashed the net, Kunyk was found open just on the back door who made a beautiful backhanded wrister to beat Yanakeff high glove side to open the scoring. Really was a beautiful, highlight reel goal. Or as we like to call it, a goal-scorers goal.
Into the second frame, the Nanooks took advantage of a deflated MSU team who struggled to contain the Nanooks early. And after a few bet close scoring chances, Granberg ripped a beauty from the high slot, almost from the blue line as he looks to the sky, as Granny's goal--the eventual game-winner--was his first playoff goal since the game-tying goal he scored about midway through the 3rd period his sophomore season in the first game against...Michigan State... back in 2011.
With just under 8 minutes to go in the middle stanza, Kaare Odegard found Andy Taranto at the blue line with about a 100 foot pass right on Taranto's tape. Taranto wheeled into the zone with Yaremchuk on the other wing, and Kunyk coming in hot on the trailer. But TO knew where he was going and snapped a twisted wrister past Yanakeff for the 3-0 lead. Unfortunately, it looked like Taranto was struggling a bit after that goal and played about a half of another shift before being permanently affixed to the bench. He stayed on the bench through the 3rd, but I don't believe he saw any ice time. Hopefully he'll be well enough to return tomorrow, but coach West didn't give me any shred of info on his status in the post-game presser, so only time will tell...
Into the 3rd, the Nanooks still pushing hard and committed to burying Michigan State they were buzzing around Yanakeff for most of the opening shift when Anthony Hayes took an early cross-checking penalty after running over Nik Yaremchuk just 26 seconds in to the period. After some early chances, Henderson won a draw and Campbell sent a puck right into Atkinson's wheelhouse, but his stick betrayed him and disintegrated on impact.
After a quick rush to the bench, he went off and Parayko came on, who made a nice keep in at the point and got it over to Campbell on the half-wall just outside the apex of the faceoff circle. Trevor let a slapshot go and Nolan Huysmans made a nice deflection into the goal after providing some good net front presence to go up 4-0.
But before I can even finish collecting my notes, Tanner Sorenson breaks the goose egg for MSU after a feed from Walsh to the back door as Sorenson had a wide open net to put it in after Keeney overcommitted. A great night for Keeney altogether, but he was left out to dry a little bit on that one...
From there through the end of regulation, the Nanooks showed why they are the number 3 penalty killing team in the nation, spending much of the final 5 minutes shorthanded. Even quite a bit of it down 2 men for various lengths of time. Then with just under 26 seconds remaining in the game, Trevor Campbell makes an aggressive hit on a Michigan State player (Lee Reimer, I believe. Not 100% sure on that one) who crumbled to the ice, but got back up fairly quickly. The officials huddled and elected to call a major and a game misconduct for checking from behind. The penalty box doors were already revolving for some time before that, but a pretty big hit, and the player did just turn his back but I couldn't have called that a game misconduct for that hit.
Regardless, Trevor did get first dibs on the best shower before the rest of the guys could get there. And if the ruling sticks he'll be eligible to return for game 3 tomorrow. As a major penalty, the league office will review it prior to tomorrow's game so we will see but I don't think they will make any changes to the call.
Tickets for tomorrow's game go on sale at 8:00AM sharp. The Patty Center ticket office will be open, and you can also get your tickets at any Ticketmaster outlet (Fred Meyer's in town), or online at Ticketmaster.com. The Carlson Center box office will also be open tomorrow with some special hours, but not sure on the specific times. But get your tickets and come out to support the 'Nooks as they look to advance to Round 2 and the Western Michigan Broncos!