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Hockey Weekend Recap

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After laying an egg Friday the Spartans rebound to take 2 points Saturday against the Gophers

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten Hockey action was back in force this past weekend and the Michigan State Spartans took two of  a possible six points in a series against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Gophers, ranked 6th in the country, won convincingly Friday night 5-0 but were fortunate to force a shoot out Saturday where the Spartans prevailed 2-1. The Spartan hockey team now stands at 5-9-1 on the season and has just one game remaining before a two week holiday break.

Friday: Minnesota 5, Michigan State 0

Michigan State Spartans vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers
0 Goals 5
24 Shots 28
0/4 Power Plays 3/7
None Goal Scorers

Travis Boyd (4), Sam Warning (5), Kyle Rau (5)

Mike Reilly (3), Connor Reilly (5)

Minnesota, coming off an embarrassing loss to Northeastern last weekend, left no doubt who was the better team Friday night. JT Stenglein took his first of three penalties on the night just two minute into the game and Travis Boyd had the Gophers staked to a lead a minute and a half later. The power play wasn't the only special teams unit doing work for the Gophers, as at 8:50 of the first period  Sam Warning scored a shorthanded goal for the Gophers to give them a 2-0 lead. The Spartans looked slow and lethargic after dumping the puck into the Gopher zone and gave up a 2-on-1 break going the other way. Matt DeBlouw was slow to backcheck and Warning put in a wide open rebound past Jake HIldebrand. Before the period was over the Gophers would add another power play goal when Kyle Rau would beat Hildebrand with a backhand shot that should have been stopped.

The Gophers would add another power play goal in the third period after scoring an even strength goal in the second period. Overall, the Spartans looked slow and lost playing the top team in the conference which set up for a possible ugly sweep.

Saturday Michigan State 3, Minnesota 3 (MSU wins shootout 2-1)

Michigan State Spartans vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers
3 Goals 3
45 Shots 24
1/4 Power Plays

2/2

Brent Darnell (2,3)

Mackenzie MacEachern (5)

Connor Reilly (6,7)

Kyle Rau (6)

Brent Darnell who was a healthy scratch Friday was inserted into the lineup Saturday, coming in for the undisciplined JT Stenglein and injured Matt Berry. The lineup changes worked for coach Tom Anastos as Darnell was the best Spartan on the ice Saturday and scored two goals on the evening. Darnell's first tally came just 2:22 into the contest when, on the power play, Darnell gathered a rebound off a Villiam Haag shot slid the puck past Adam Wilcox. The Gophers would battle back with Connor Reilly scoring on a rocket of a one-time shot and Kyle Rau scoring the Gophers 4th power play goal of the weekend. Those two Gophers' goals cam ewith under five minutes to go in the period and were only two minutes apart from each other.

What may have saved the night for the Spartans was Mackenzie MacEachern scoring a goal with just 23 seconds left in the period, off of a great pass from Joe Cox on a 2-on-1 break. The Spartans outshot the Gophers 15-8 in the first period and registered the only goal of the second period on the goal of the year so far for the green and white. Darnell came in the zone down the left boards, beat two Gophers' defenders with a nifty toe drag then let loose a cannon of a shot that went crossbar down to give the Spartans a 3-2 lead. The Gophers forced overtime in the third period when Connor Reilly got his second goal of the evening on a 4-on-3 popwer play opportunity.

The shootout would go three rounds with only Seth Ambroz, who was robbed with a great glove save in the 3rd, beating Hildebrand. Michael Ferrantino and Matt DeBlouw scored for the Spartans to earn an extra point in the league standings.

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Looking back at the 3 keys to success

  1. Must Score Power Play Goals- The Spartans only scored 1 power play goal on the weekend and surrendered five. With better play penalty killing Saturday night the Spartans likely get their first regulation win over the Gophers in league play.
  2. Depth Production- Darnell stepping up was big but overall a poor weekend from the Spartans lower lines.
  3. Need Amazing Jake Hildebrand- 8 goals on a weekend is too many. Still waiting for the Hildebrand of old to show up.
Around the B1G
Michigan and Ohio State played once this weekend with the Wolverines running the Buckeyes out of the building 8-3. Wisconsin dropped to 1-10-1 on the season after Penn State swept their series 5-2, 4-2. The Nittany Lions are in first place in the league with Michigan State in third place.
Next Up
The Spartans play host to Clarkson University Saturday December 14 at 5:00 PM.