Last night was a good night for me personally as I got to take in 2 and a half hockey games. I saw the Grand Rapids Griffins win 5-1 over the Utica Comets as I was working at Van Andel Arena on the ice crew. I came home and saw the University of Michigan comeback to continue Wisconsin's miserable season in a 7-4 win. The cherry on top however was staying up until 2 in the morning catching the replay of the Michigan State Spartans defeating the visiting Ohio State Buckeyes 4-1 to move into 3rd place in the B1G standings.
Friday night saw the return of Matt Berry to the lineup after a "leave of absence" due to not buying into the team concepts of coach Tom Anastos. Berry was a motivated man Friday night, playing on a line with Matt DeBlouw and Mackenzie MacEachern. Berry had a team high 5 shots on net, was active in back checking all night and was shown multiple times encouraging teammates which must be mentioned due to the recent suspension. Berry started the scoring for the Spartans less than 2 minutes into the second period. Berry tried to send a pass in front to MacEachern but the puck went off the backside of Ohio State goalie Christian Frey. Berry gathered the puck and stuffed it under Frey's leg on a wrap around goal.
Brent Darnell had been buzzing in the first period but was unable to finish his chances. On an offensive zone face-off in the second period he made up for the frustration scoring a quick goal after Thomas Ebbing won the draw. The goal was Darnell's fifth of the season. Ohio State did pull within one goal as Dustin Gust scored a goal just under three minutes into the third. The Spartans answered by immediately putting pressure on Frey and the Buckeyes, then extended their lead back to two when Mackenzie MacEachern scored a power play goal at 6:14 in the third. Ryan Keller added a late goal after making a great play in the corner and following up on a Brent Darnell shot to put home his 3rd goal of the season. The Spartans will go for their first sweep of the season tonight at 7:00 at Munn Arena, broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
- The Spartans penalty kill (best in the B1G) has killed 19 straight power plays and is something the team will be able to lean on coming down the stretch this season.
- The Brent Darnell-Ryan Keller- Thomas Ebbing line was great Friday night. Keller has been one of the most improved Spartans this season and Brent Darnell is finally showing some offensive finishing prowess.
- Jake Hildebrand made 33 saves but was rarely tested by great scoring chances. The defenseman were great after a tough weekend against Penn State. Shots were kept to the outside and when Hildebrand allowed rebounds the defenseman were quick to get pucks out of the danger areas.
- The power play was 1/2 against the anemic OSU penalty kill which was one of the keys to the weekend from my preview. They should look to gain more than just two opportunities tonight to go for the sweep.
- There was a great crowd last night of 6,333 that for once was actually loud even on TV. It was a nice change of pace from the Munn mausoleum that I usually complain about. Also speaking of TV the changes at Munn look great. The new lights make watching TV games so much better and the video board looks great above center ice. Also, it's a small thing but the new boards looked nice and clean compared to the ancient old boards which literally rubbed green paint onto the jerseys.
- I love the bronze jerseys for the Soldier Field game. It may not be school colors but it is nice to see the hockey team get a look that the basketball and football teams have worn. The only complaint I do have is I strongly dislike the "Spartans" nameplate. Either go no names or player names. Also the captains jerseys look busy with 5 patches on it.