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Maryland Heights, Mo. – Among the many talents that have enabled this Michigan State hockey team to accomplish everything it has this season: These guys don’t panic.

Maybe not even when he lives.

They faced a two-goal deficit in the third period on Friday night and were still trailing with a minute left in the game, with their season on the line.

“Just sticking with it all year,” said MSU senior forward Jeremy Davidson, who scored the game-winning goal 11 minutes into overtime.

Easy peasy.

Not only.

Most teams don’t do this. Most teams will head home on Saturday instead of preparing to play in the regional finals of the NCAA tournament on Sunday night.

The Spartans’ 5-4 overtime win over Western Michigan on Friday night in suburban St. Louis was actually the latest success in a renaissance season that MSU fans have been dreaming of for more than a decade — winning, blue-chip talent. , the trail. stability. Passing through the NCAA tournament.

Related: Michigan State hockey rallies, wins overtime thriller over Western Michigan in first round of NCAA Tournament

The last time MSU won an NCAA tournament game, 16 years ago, their current coach was still under construction, and their star defenseman and goaltender — both NHL prospects — were teenagers.

It’s probably best that Spartan fans didn’t know how long the wait was going to be then — though it’s better that this team makes it worth it.

They will play Michigan on Sunday for the 6th time this season. MSU’s run against the Wolverines this season — four wins, one improbable comeback, a tense overtime thriller in the Big Ten Tournament championship a week ago, and one humiliating, scary home loss back in January — has played a big part in the Spartans’ streak. . A team that doesn’t sweat or give in or give up.

Related: Michigan hockey’s terrific finish against North Dakota in the NCAA opener. Next up is a clash with MSU.

We saw that calm determination down to the wire on Friday night — exemplified when MSU freshman defenseman Artem Levshunov dribbled around the right side of the ice as he overtook three defenders, before finding a wide-open teammate Carson Dowart in front of the net for the game-tying goal with 55.8 seconds left.

“I tried to do something,” Levshunov explained.

That help qualifies as something. It was a legacy for the soon-to-be top-five NHL draft pick, more so than any he’s ever achieved in an impressive freshman season.

“Good players find a way to step up when the game is on the line,” MSU coach Adam Nightingale said. “And of course he did.”

MSU’s late-game oomph — also on display this season against Minnesota and Michigan and the Big Ten regular-season title-winner Wisconsin — is largely a matter of competence, confidence and adjustment.

There was no gasp as they headed to the locker room after sending the game into overtime. Likewise, the composure they had when they were behind remained.

“It helps to have the same score as last week for an OT game,” sophomore center Tiernan Shudy said. “Everybody’s like, ‘Hey, it’s not over. We still have to go out there and finish.’ We know we have the legs and they’re kind of falling off a little bit. It just goes back to that training (strength and conditioning coach) Will Morlock spent the entire summer and even last year.

Find me a game where MSU has finished strong this season and I’ll show you a player who will compliment Morlock.

Morlock’s work is the longest game. On the bench, with just over six minutes to go and MSU down a goal, the coaching staff was instantly preparing the Spartans for the playoffs.

When MSU protested a no-call on the ice, thinking it would face a five-minute maximum penalty against WMU, they knew that if the challenge failed, they would lose a timeout. The break during the evaluation will be the last time they will have some time to teach their players. So assistant coach Mike Towns opposed MSU’s plan to play six-on-five in case they needed to pull the goalie late.

Sure enough, Dorwart’s goal came a minute later when MSU pulled goaltender Trey Augustine off a pass from Levshunov to make it 6-5.

No details are left unsaid.

You trust this employee. They believe in their own abilities. They believe that good things will come. Because you’ve seen it happen so many times now. And again on Friday.

This was a major programmatic victory. It’s almost as big as Wisconsin’s win for the Big Ten Championship or last week’s Big Ten Tournament title win over Michigan.

This MSU team had to take the next step by easily reaching the NCAA tournament. Instead, the Spartans have gone through several streaks this season. That now includes winning an NCAA Tournament game — in spectacular fashion, no less.

“It really feels unreal,” Shudi said. “You want to get the next one, but that’s kind of the monkey behind it, you know?”

All that’s left for this team and a rejuvenated program is to get to the Frozen Four and take the swing there.

“I never thought we’d be here three years later,” Davidson said.

No matter what happens on Sunday, I’m sure of this: you won’t panic.

Contact Graham Couch at gcouch@lsj.com. Follow him on Twitter @Graham_Couch.