LSSU sophomore Dan Eves gave the Lakers a 2-2 tie Saturday
In a staggered "home-and-home" series, Michigan State beat Lake Superior State Thursday in Sault Ste. Marie before playing to a tie Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
The Spartans have clinched a first-round bye in the upcoming playoffs and will next play at Munn Ice Arena in a best-of-three quarterfinal series on March 10-12.
"We've grown up a lot over the course of the season and we're still a young hockey team," MSU head coach Rick Comley said. "We've been battle tested in tough environments, tough games, but we've earned the right to get the bye. We're still a high-end work in progress. Now it's time to get ready for the playoffs."
Thursday night, Michigan State got goals from three different skaters - Chris Mueller, Bryan Lerg and captain Drew Miller - while Jeff Lerg earned first star honors with 28 saves as the Spartans defeated Lake Superior, 3-2.
Trent Campbell and Nathan Ward scored for LSSU while Jeff Jakaitis made 19 stops.
Down at "The Joe" for the Saturday matinee, Dan Eves' goal with 7:23 left in regulation pulled the Lakers into the 2-2 tie. Campbell scored his second goal in as many games and Jakaitis was outstanding in turning aside 45 shots.
Colton Fretter and Miller scored for MSU and Chris Snavely assisted on both. Lerg finished with 15 saves.
"Obviously, we got better as the game went on, and we had a good start to the game," said Comley. "It went a little flat in the second and they know they never really generated anything, which raised questions about our ability to generate some emotion. Then, in overtime, LSSU goaltender Jeff Jakaitis was unbelievable. They had everything to gain in this game, and we had nothing to gain in this game, but at the end we were determined to get the win."
The extra session marked the Spartans’ 12th overtime game and eighth tie this season – both school records.
LSSU finished sixth in the CCHA and will play host to Western Michigan, the 11th seed, this wekeend up north in a best-of-three first round series. It will be the first time since the 1999-2000 season that LSSU will host a first round playoff matchup. Back in 2000, they suffered a sweep at the hands of Bowling Green.
Comley sees a bright post-season for not only his Spartans, but for the Lakers.
"They're so big and strong," Comley noted. "I thought they were better in their own building on Thursday, and that's as good as I've seen Jakaitis, so with goaltending like that and a good, strong defensive team, anything can happen."