If intensity was an issue in Friday's loss to Michigan State, the Arizona Icecats more than made up for it on Saturday, scoring four goals in the first period.
However, Michigan State chipped away at the lead, tying the game with 2:16 left in the third period at 5-5 and winning it in a shootout 1-0.
"The play from (Friday) was markedly better and I'm pleased with that," Arizona coach Leo Golembiewski said. "But you can't beat the referees. That was unbelievable stuff and inconsistent.
"I'm not blaming them but it didn't help our guys."
In the final 6:15 of the third period, officials called seven penalties, including a tripping and a 10-minute unsportsmanlike conduct on Arizona's Austin Capobianco with 5:50 left in the regulation.
Coupled with the loss of Jordan Schupan to a separated shoulder earlier in the game, Arizona was without two of its top players, depleting an already thin lineup. Robbie Nowinski tallied a hat trick for the Icecats, scoring two goals in the first period and another in the third to give Arizona a 5-3 lead. But even he said that it hurt losing Capobianco at the end.
"I don't know how you can call that many penalties with five minutes left," Nowinski said. "Usually you can do whatever you want in the last five minutes and those were very weak penalties."
The penalties gave the Spartans a man advantage over the final 3:26 of regulation, and they took advantage. Scott Anderson scored with 2:16 left to force overtime.
Early in the game, it was a different story though, as Arizona scored four straight goals after Michigan State took a 1-0 lead in the first.
Schupan and Brady Lefferts each scored goals along with a pair from Nowinski — who got his 200th career point for the Icecats on Saturday.
The Spartans' Kevin Pabst scored twice in the second period to narrow the deficit and Brian Hennessy scored the lone goal in the shootout.
According to Nowinski, Arizona was playing two lines for most of the contest and will rely on some of the team's younger players the rest of the way.
"If they can step it up that would be huge," he said. "They've started to, a little, but they really need to pick it up if we're going to go anywhere the rest of the season."