So this season marks my third covering Michigan State hockey at The Only Colors and this is a weird feeling I get today. On a weekend where the football team improved to 6-0, instead of my usual bad news about hockey, get to report good news. That's because the Spartans left Maine with a win and a tie, with some exciting flashes of offense that has been missing over the past three seasons.
The weekend began on Friday with a penalty filled tie with the Maine Black Bears. The Spartans scored all three of their goals on the man advantage, going 3-for-11 on the power play. The Spartans showed resiliency as well, as Maine held 3 different leads in the game. After giving up an early goal in the first period the Spartans tied the game when freshman defenseman Zach Osburn rifled home his first career goal. Again, in the second period the Spartans had to battle back to tie the game, and knotted the game up when Joe Cox redirected a shot past Maine goaltender Matt Morris. In the third period with just over 2 minutes remaining in the game and the Spartans trailing 3-2, Maine took yet another penalty. On the ensuing power play, with Jake Hildebrand pulled for an extra attacker, Osburn once again lit the lamp, with assists going to his freshman teammates Mason Appleton and Cody Milan.
The Spartans outshot Maine 36-29 and were able to take advantage of the lack of discipline in an early season game. At this point in the season the team hasn't had much time to work on the power play, so this successful of a night bodes well for the rest of the season. Officially the game goes into the national record as a tie but Maine did "win" in a shootout.
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Saturday night the Spartans took on a pesky Lake Superior State team that had lost 5-2 to North Dakota the night before, after jumping out to an early 2-0 lead. On Saturday, captain Michael Ferrantino opened up the scoring for the Spartans, collecting his own rebound in the slot and sending a wrist shot past the Lakers' Gordon Defiel. The lead wouldn't last long, as the Lakers tied the game just a few minutes later leaving the game tied after one period.
In the second period, Mackenzie MacEachern got his game going with the first of two goals for the junior on the night. MacEachern gave the Spartans the lead just over halfway through the period when, on the power play, MacEachern finished a goal mouth scramble by lifting the puck high into the corner of the net. MacEachern would collect his second goal of the game just 12 seconds into the third period, when he deflected a John Draeger point shot past Defiel. It was a nice designed play off of an offensive zone faceoff, where MacEachern skated to the front of the net and showed great touch on his backhand to redirect the puck past Defiel. With just under 8 minutes to play in the game the Spartans would add another goal off of an offensive zone faceoff. Thomas Ebbing won the draw back to Joe Cox, who let a one time shot go that was aimed perfectly at the far side of the net, forcing Defiel to sprawl and make a kicking leg save. The rebound was left in the slot with Defiel out of position and JT Stenglein made no mistake depositing the puck into the empty net.
The Spartans for the second time on the weekend, outshot their opponent, this time 31-30 over the Lakers.
The Good and
Bad No bad, this is a positive zone
- Depth- The Spartans are leaving the weekend with 11 Spartans getting on the scoresheet and the surprise of JT Stenglein leading the team with 4 points.
Freshman- By all accounts the freshman had an impressive first weekend. Zach Osburn scored twice and registered 3 points. Mason Appleton centered the second line and played on the power play with fellow freshman Cody MIlan, and they had 3 assists combined.
- Special Teams- The power play was 4-for-18, 22.2% on the weekend and the penalty kill was 11-for-12, 91.7%. It goes without saying if the Spartans can keep the percentages that high they will win more games than they lose.
Next weekend the Spartans travel to play Denver University for a series. The Pioneers were ranked #5 in the nation but will likely slip after splitting a series with the Air Force Academy (featuring a two goal Friday night from my cousin Kyle Haak in his collegiate debut).