Despite a near heroic effort at times from Spartan goalie Drew DeRidder, Michigan State dropped the first game of the weekend series with the Ohio State Buckeyes by a score of 5-1 on Saturday afternoon at Munn Ice Arena. It should also be noted that forward Charlie Combs, who entered the game leading all Spartans with five goals on the season, was a scratch for the game.
Early in the first period, shots on goal were fairly even, with both teams getting a few good opportunities. Just after the mid-way point of the first period, however, a flurry of activity around the Spartan net almost resulted in a goal from the Buckeyes. Almost, but not quite. A great set of saves from DeRidder at point blank range at the 12:21 mark kept the score knotted at 0-0.
15 stops for Drew DeRidder in the 1st pic.twitter.com/uQWfyURptH— MSU_Hockey (@MSU_Hockey) January 23, 2021
By the end of the first period, Ohio State led the Spartans in shots on goal, 15-to-seven and also led in face-offs, 12-to-five That said, Michigan State still had a few good scoring chances by Mitchell Lewandowski and Chistrian Krygier at the eight-minute mark. Lewandowski had another good shot at the net with just two minutes left in the first period. But, both teams headed to the locker room with a 0-0 tie.
To open the second period, the energy level from the Buckeyes seemed to reach a new level. DeRidder had to make several tough saves in the first three minutes of the period. But, it was the Spartans who drew first blood. Four minutes into the second stanza, forward Jagger Joshua poked the goal into the corner of the net off from a pass from Christian Krygier.
But, Ohio State showed no let-up. The Buckeyes continued to pepper the Michigan State goalie until they finally found the back of the net. In this case, DeRidder made the initial save, but failed to coral the rebound. Buckeye forward Travis Treloar scored on an open net as the DeRidder could not recover his position. With nine minutes to play in the second period, the score was tied 1-1.
The Buckeyes would get another great scoring chance just before the second intermission. What began as a four-on-four due to the first penalty of the game turned into a brief power play for Ohio State due to a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty on MSU. Deridder had to once again make a difficult save to kill the penalty and preserve the tie. OSU outshot the Spartans 27-to-eight in the second period.
The third period opened with MSU getting a decent scoring opportunity off a turnover deep in the Buckeye zone, but OSU goalie Tommy Nappier kept the game tied at one apiece. A few minutes later, however, the damn finally broke for the Spartans.
It started with a top-shelf goal from OSU’s CJ Regula at the 3:27 mark. Just 40 seconds later, Ohio State added a goal from Tate Singleton. Then, about 90 seconds later, the Buckeyes’ Patrick Guzzo made it 4-1, OSU. After the Spartans successfully killed off a power play late in the third period, the Buckeyes added a fifth and final goal with just under five minutes to play. It total, the Spartans were out-shot 58-22.
Following the game, Michigan State head coach Danton Cole was disappointed, as expected. “I think we muddled around a little bit...we don’t finish our back check, which was kind of a theme of the night and it ends up going from a 1-1 game to 4-1 real quick.” He added, “Bottom line is that I don’t think we worked hard enough and we didn’t deserve to win and that’s what happens.”
Both Coach Cole and Spartan defenseman Tommy Miller commented that the Spartans’ identity this year is based on playing hard, gritty, and fast. When the Spartans were doing that, things seemed to work. When they weren’t, that’s when the problems arose.
The loss drops the Spartans to 5-8-2 overall and 4-8-1 in Big Ten play. The Green and White will have a chance to earn a split in the series Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m EST.