For a second straight year the most-played college hockey rivalry held the ‘Duel in the D’ in Joe Louis Arena. In last seasons inaugural ‘Duel in the D’ the Spartans claimed a 3-2 overtime victory over the Wolverines to win the ‘Iron D’ trophy. The 312th installment of the rivalry, and the final played in Joe Louis Arena, officially ended 4-4. The game would go to a shootout to see who claimed the extra Big Ten point and Iron D trophy, where the Wolverines won 2-1 in five rounds.
The Spartans jumped to an early advantage in the roller coaster affair with Taro Hirose roofing a shot short-side past Michigan goaltender Hayden Lavigne just 36 seconds in. The Spartans would double the advantage six minutes later on a 5-on-3 with Sam Saliba tapping home from close range.
Michigan State dominated the early portions of the game, but a rush up the ice late in the period saw Michigan cut the lead to one and seize momentum. Jake Slaker had his initial shot saved, but his rebound from a sharp angle caromed off Michigan State goalie Ed Minney and in. The dying seconds of the first saw the Spartan lead cancelled out by a goalmouth scramble that found its way past Minney off the stick of Max Shuart.
Minney was replaced by John Lethemon to start the second period. It is unclear if the decision was for on ice performance reasons or health concerns. Minney was pulled in the first game of the back-to-back last week versus Wisconsin. It was his first start since being injured against Michigan in late January.
Michigan State reclaimed the lead midway through the second when Chris Knudson scored his second goal of the year poking home the puck from close range.
Similar to the first, Michigan controlled the late stages of the second period and equalized again, this time on a powerplay opportunity. The Wolverines initially believed a goal from Dexter Dancs was that equalizer, but the review determined his tip past Lethemon was above the crossbar and was subsequently disallowed. On the same powerplay Michigan captain Nolan De Jong rifled a shot from the top of the circle, this one counting to tie the game at three.
The Wolverines went into the third still searching for their first lead of the night. They found it 2:40 in with a screened shot from the point by Nolan De Jong, his second goal of the evening.
Sam Saliba refused to be outdone by De Jong and got his second goal of the game with just under five minutes remaining. A great puck battle from Villiam Haag led to a backdoor pass to Saliba who was able to beat Lavigne to cancel out another lead in the game.
In his relief appearance Lethemon stood tall for the Spartans with two huge saves in the final minute of regulation.
In overtime the first two minutes were played 4-on-4 due to coincidental minors at the end of regulation. The back and fourth affair saw both teams with chances including a crossbar from the Spartans.
The game officially would end in a 4-4 tie, but a shootout would be used to see who would claim the extra Big Ten point and Iron D trophy.
Joe Cox scored on the first shot for the Spartans, but Jake Slaker scored on the second Michigan attempt to bring the shootout to even standing. In the fifth shootout round Michigan defensemen Sam Piazza scored. Taro Hirose was in a must score situation, but missed wide meaning the Wolverines would claim a 2-1 shootout victory.
These two teams will face off once again tomorrow night in Ann Arbor at 7:30.