On Sunday in Munn Ice Arena, the Michigan State Spartans Hockey team resumed Big Ten play with an afternoon clash with the Penn State Nittany Lions. It was a fast-passed and cleanly played game that ended in a 0-1 loss for the Spartans.
The game started a little sloppy for both teams, but MSU generally controlled the action early. The Spartans outshot the Nittany Lions 13-to-10 in the first period and dominated faceoffs, 12-to-7. This trend would continue for the entire game as the Green and White ended with a 34-19 edge in this area. The Spartans had several minutes of sustained pressure in the Penn State end in the first stanza.
However, the Spartans seemed to be playing with fire by giving up the puck right in front of Spartan goalie Drew DeRidder on multiple occasions. These errors finally resulted in a goal when a very bad giveaway by freshman defenseman Powell Conner resulted in a point-blank shot and goal from Penn State wing Sam Sternschein to give Penn State the early 1-0 lead, with just under three minutes to play in the first period. This goal would end up being the game-winner.
MSU very nearly tied the score two minutes later on a great chance by Charlie Combs, but Penn State goalie Oskar Autio was up to task and made the save. The first period saw no penalties and very few stoppages in play.
The teams then played a fairly even and clean second period with a few solid soring chances for both teams. Penn State earned the first penalty of the game with cross-checking call with 7:49 to go in the second stanza. MSU failed to generate any real scoring chances on the power play, however, unless you count a potential short-handed opportunity for Penn State that was stopped by DeRidder. By the second intermission, Penn State had closed the gap in shots on goal to 19-20 in favor of MSU, but the score remained 1-0.
The third period again started clean, with a few chances for each team, but no goals. Penn State was starting to dominate shots on goal, however, with six compared to zero from Michigan State early in the period. The action picked up halfway through the final stanza, with bigger hits, end-to-end action, and several good chances, but none of them found the back of the net.
With just over a minute to play, the Spartans pulled goalie Drew DeRidder to bring on the extra skater and did manage a few good chances. They also narrowly avoided an empty net goal by the Nittany Lions as a shot hit the post of the untended Spartan goal.
With just over 30 seconds to play, following another near miss in the PSU zone, a near brawl almost broke out behind the Penn State goal. The result was offsetting roughing penalties that resulted in a final five-on-four flurry, but to no avail. The game ended 1-0 and Penn State outshot the Spartans 10-3 overall in the third period.
Following the game, Coach Danton Cole summed up the afternoon by saying, “overall it wasn’t a bad game. You can beat guys up on one bad play in a tight game like this, but I will try to figure out the things that we did well and address a couple of things that we can do better. That’s how you work your weekend. Hopefully we can get one more play, one more hit, and one more shot out of all of our guys and it will be a different outcome tomorrow if we do that.”
With the loss, MSU drops behind Penn State and into last place in the Big Ten at 2-4-1 in conference play, and has five points. The Spartans will get a chance to avenge Sunday’s loss with a rematch with the Nittany Lions on Monday afternoon.