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#16 Michigan State Hockey Continues Amazing Season with 3-2 Overtime Win Over Alaska

Munn Ice Arena

East Lansing, MI

The #16 Michigan State Spartans were not good hosts to the Alaska Nanooks tonight. Nanook is Eskimo for Polar Bear and the Spartans sent them back to their den. Led by an amazing performance by junior left winger Kevin Walrod and Will “Yanni the Magnificent” Yanakeff in goal the Spartans gritted out another 1 goal win.

Head coach Tom “The Stache” Anastos said of the tilt, “It was a win and in the end that was the most important thing. I didn’t think we had the jump, the emotional edge to start. I was concerned all week.”

Anastos was referring to the sweep of Ohio State in Columbus two weeks ago and the emotional draining series last week with Arch Rival Michigan. Anastos said about that lack of emotion, “I think it is a natural tendency. We played our biggest rival (last week with Michigan) and had to sustain it for this week. It wasn’t surprising.”

Senior center Brett Perlini who had the overtime game-winning goal said, “We had a slow start tonight, but we came out in the third period and it was gut check time.”

I already mentioned Walrod who has amazing tonight. He spent the evening harassing the Polar Bears from one end of the ice to the other. His guts and tenacity frustrated Alaska every time he hit the ice. Perlini wasted no time praising his teammate saying, “(Walrod) One of the most underrated players in the league. He brings it every night.”

Freshman center Brent Darnell had two goals tonight and echoed Perlini’s sentiments adding, “Night in and night out Walrod is one of our best players.” I agree.

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At the second intermission the Spartans found themselves sitting in the locker room having outplayed Alaska, and sitting with a two-two tie. The Stache stood and looked at his team who needed an emotional charge and according to Perlini told them, “This could be the seniors last home series,” referencing how they had played. That gripped the senior by the heartstrings. In fact he said, “That really got to me.” Fired up the Spartans came out and took care of business.

The Stache reflected on his team’s third period and overtime effort by saying, “I was happy by the 3rd period that we were playing. In the 3rd period I thought we were the better team.”

The last four games for MSU have been 3-2 finals. The Spartans are now 7-9-0 in one goal games and they have four ties to go along with those stats.

The turning point of the game had to be the 16:07 point of the 3rd period. With the Nanooks skating on the power play with a 5-3 advantage the Spartan penalty killers showed why they are among the elite in the nation. They stymied Alaska and the Spartans were off to the races. The Stache said of that critical disruption of the Nanook power play, “That was a huge kill.”

Once again Yanakeff was a beast in goal. He had 25 saves and although this was a different kind of game then we are used to from him, he did what all-good net minders do and found a way to win. His head coach was impressed. The Stache said, “He played real steady. Real good game. They just took shots and he killed them.”

Former MSU super star and now goalie coach Mike Gilmore said of his pupil, “You have got to play in all kinds of games. Last week he really pushed through when he had been sick all week, tonight he had players coming at him from everywhere.”

Gilmore went on to expound about the size of the Nanooks. “They have a different style, and their guys are so much bigger. They just get in the way and it’s hard to see pucks. I just like to see him play regardless of the environment and style of the teams and play well.”

The Spartans celebrate senior night back here at Munn tomorrow night. The Spartans have nine seniors they will be sending off. The puck drops at 8:05 PM, but the senior celebration begins at 7:30 PM. Tickets are still available and bring your skates. After the game Munn will open it up for open skating.