The Michigan State University Spartans hit the ice today with the sting of last night’s 4 – 5 overtime loss to the #19 rated Huskies of Michigan Technological University still fresh on their faces. The Spartans entered Game 2 determined to redeem themselves on home ice, Munn Arena in East Lansing.
The game opened aggressively from the moment the skates hit the ice. The Huskies quickly took the lead on a shot by Jake Lucchini (Assists: Sturos, Watson) at 1:08 that slid past senior goaltender Jake Hildebrand. Not to be undone so early in the first period on their own ice, the Spartans retaliated at the 3:14 mark on a shot by center Thomas Ebbing, assisted by right winger Joe Cox. Things didn’t stay settled for long and Tech pushed back, with Patrick Anderson, assisted by Mason Blacklock blasting another one past Hildebrand at the 7:22 marker.
With two goals against only four shots on, MSU Head Coach Tom Anastos pulled netminder Hildebrand and replaced him with sophomore goalie Ed Minney. For the next 11:32 the game remained a strong battle of wills and the score remained in favor of Michigan Tech at 2 – 1. Then at 18:54, MSU Captain Michael Ferrantino (Assists: MacEachern, Appleton) moved one past Husky goalie Jamie Phillips and the score was again tied. The period closed with both teams sitting at 2 – 2 and no penalties assessed.
As the second period got underway, both teams seemed to have gotten their “skates” under them and despite a lot of aggressive play and action, the score was unmoved. The Huskies got the power play advantage at 7:44 when Spartan left wing JT Stenglein went to the penalty box on a boarding call, but was unable to capitalize on Michigan State’s loss of their man. Moments after State returned to full strength at 9:52, Tech D-Man Shane Hanna was called for tripping, placing the Spartans on the power play. 41 seconds later, Husky defender Chris Leibinger went away for cross-checking, putting the Spartans up two men.
Not willing to let the two man advantage slip away, Spartan left winger Mackenzie MacEachern drilled one past Phillips and the Spartans were up 3 – 2. The boys from East Lansing almost lost their one goal advantage with just minutes left to play in the period when a mass of hockey humanity converged on the Spartan goal with arms, elbows, and the puck moving every which way. As the puck slid within millimeters of crossing the goal line, Spartan sophomore defender Carson Gatt got the blade of his stick on the puck and moved it back out toward center ice and the period ended with MSU up by one.
Regrouping between periods, both teams hit the ice with gusto to start the third period. It was Michigan State that drew the first blood of the period however, with Brennan Sanford (Assists: Wood, Osburn) netting the puck at 1:44. For almost 14 more minutes the teams slewed back and forth, each making shots on goal, but keepers Minney and Phillips making the saves. Finally, at 16:07, Tech forward Tyler Heinonen (Assists: Eick, Davis) slammed one past Minney making the game a one point contest. Two minutes later at 18:09, that single point vanished as the Huskies Malcolm Gould again beat out Minney and the game was tied, reminiscent of the game just the night before.
The following five minute overtime period was of no help, as neither team was able to make hay while the sun was shining. One last penalty by MSU’s Ferrantino was a non-event, happening with one second left in the period, and the game, while technically now recorded as a tie moved on to the shootout.
Opening the shootout for MSU, Joe Cox successfully scored, giving the Spartans the advantage. Shots by Tech’s Heinonen, MSU’s Stenglein, and the Husky’s Petan all were successfully defended. Spartan center Cody Milan maneuvered his puck around Phillips to end the game.
Michigan Tech delivered 42 shots on goal to MSU, while the Spartans had 24 shots on goal. Tech managed 38 saves and State 20.
Both teams gave fantastic performances in this series. Play was aggressive but fair, and both teams showed themselves to be well matched. The series marks the first and last regular season challenge between these two, though they will face off again on December 29th for the 51st Annual Great Lake Invitational.