After starting the season 0-3, the Spartan hockey team has rebounded to 3-3 after sweeping American International this past weekend. The Spartans defeated the Yellow Jackets 5-4 on Friday night and had possibly their best effort of the season in a 4-0 win Sunday afternoon.
On Friday, the Spartans raced out to a 5-1 lead and held on during the third period to beat the visitors from Springfield, MA. The scoring was spread around for the Spartans, by different lines and classes. Sophomore Michael Ferrantino opened the scoring just 4:46 into the game and freshman JT Steinglein got his 1st career goal on the power play five minutes later. After entering the second period up 2-1, the Spartans extended their lead on goals from freshman Villiam Haag and senior Lee Reimer.
In the third period, senior Greg Wolfe banged home a loose rebound and seemed to have iced the game for the Spartans. However, in the last 15 minutes of the game the Yellow Jackets would beat goaltender Jake Hildebrand three times. Sean Federow scored on the power play for AIC with 11 minutes remaining and after Jake Williams scored a couple minutes later the Spartans lead was only 2. With the goalie pulled, the Yellow Jackets would notch a 5 on 3 power play goal with six seconds remaining to bring us to our final score of 5-4.
MSU beats AIC (via MSUSpartanAthletics)
On Sunday, I was able to attend my first game at Munn Ice Arena this season. As I predicted in the series preview, Will Yanakeff got the nod in net for the Spartans and was excellent when called upon in a 4-0 victory. Freshman contributions continued as three of the four goals were scored by Spartan rookies. In the second period, MacKenzie MacEachern and Thomas Ebbing got behind the AIC defense for a 2 on 0. The former Birmingham Brother Rice teammates spread out wide as MacEachern fed Ebbing for a one timer to the goalies glove side. The puck rang off the post and sat in the crease until MacEachern put home his 2nd goal of the 2013-14 campaign. Greg Wolfe potted home his second goal of the weekend on the power play at 12:10 of the second period.
In the third period, MacEachern had the hot hand again as he banged home his own rebound past goaltender Hunter Leisner. Joe Cox rounded out the scoring for the Spartans as he blasted home a shot from the right circle with 5:01 remaining in the game. The Spartans held AIC off the score sheet for the remainder of the game as Yanakeff made 26 saves for his fourth career shutout.
Spartans shutout American International 4-0 (via MSUSpartanAthletics)
- The Spartans continue to get contributions from the freshman class. They will need these guys to continue to score for a shot at competing for a top three spot in the B1G
- Seniors Greg Wolfe and Lee Reimer got points in both games. Wolfe scored each game and now has 5 goals in 6 games and is the leading scorer on the team
- The power play scored a goal in each game. They moved from 58th in the country to 53rd as they are now 3 for 33 on the season.
- On Sunday, the Yellow Jackets really never threatened to score, outside of a few chances that hit the post. The Spartans also got through a game without giving up a goal on the penalty kill.
- On Friday, you have to close out a team like American International. I guess it can be expected that a young team will struggle closing out games, but this may be the worst team they play all season and they almost gave away a win Friday
- On Sunday it was obvious Anastos is still searching for anything to get going on the power play. This included multiple shifts of 5 forwards on the ice during the power play. I am not a fan of the power play with 4 forwards out there, let alone 5. Hopefully this isn't a year long strategy because envisioning Kyle Rau from Minnesota coming down shorthanded on a forward is just frightening.
Next Up This weekend the Spartans travel to Houghton, MI to take on the Michigan Tech Huskies. The Huskies, who the Spartans play every other year in the opening game of the Great Lakes Invitational, are off to a 1-6-1 start this season. The Huskies were swept by the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor last weekend. The teams last played on December 29, 2011, with the Spartans winning 3-1.