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Michigan State men’s ice hockey takes split with No. 16 UMass-Lowell

MSU moves to 2-2 on the young season.

Michigan State v Massachusetts-Lowell Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

Michigan State men’s ice hockey took a split this week against No. 16 UMass-Lowell.

The River Hawks dropped a spot in the rankings last week after splitting a series with unranked Miami (OH). Meanwhile, the Spartans opened the season without any votes in the Top-20 poll.

Thursday: 4-3 victory

Michigan State opened the series with a 4-3 win over the River Hawks on Thursday night.

UMass-Lowell opened the scoring early in the first period, but the Spartans answered with three goals in one minute and 34 seconds of game time. Graduate forward Miroslav Mucha scored two of those three goals. The first one was a tip-in right in front of the blue paint to tie the game.

Just 42 seconds later, Mucha scored again. He was assisted by junior defenseman Powell Connor, who provided the pass for Mucha to hit the one-timer.

Mucha is originally from Slovakia and his family came over from his native country to watch him play.

“It’s awesome,” Mucha said. “I’m very grateful, thankful for them coming over and I’m happy we got the ‘W’ for them.”

Graduate defenseman Christian Krygier scored the third goal for Michigan State. The puck was deflected on a centering pass and went right to Krygier, who put it in the back of the net.

UMass Lowell answered in the second period with a power-play goal to make it 3-2. Then, the River Hawks tied it up early in the third period.

The winning goal came from Tanner Kelly on a penalty shot. UMass-Lowell’s Filip Fornåå Svensson was called for holding as Kelly had a breakaway toward the net, preventing a Spartan goal.

Kelly made the most of it. He scored on the backhand to give the Spartans the lead, 4-3.

“I wasn’t really thinking too much,” Kelly said. “I made the best move that I possibly could.”

Despite UMass-Lowell pulling the goalie and being on a power play in the final 30 seconds, Michigan State held on to win the game by a final score of 4-3.

Friday: 3-2 loss

Things didn’t go as well in Friday’s contest, despite Michigan State making things interesting at the end of the game.

MSU was plagued by turnovers and penalties in the first two periods. The Spartans had seven shots in the first period and nine in the second. By the end of the second frame, MSU was already down 3-0.

UMass-Lowell scored on goals from sophomore forward Owen Cole, senior forward Carl Berglund and graduate defenseman Jon McDonald to go up 3-0.

Michigan State erupted for 24 shots in the final frame, almost 25 percent more than the Spartans had in the first two periods combined. Included in those shots are goals by a pair of freshman, forward Daniel Russell and defenseman Matt Basgall. For Basgall, it was his first collegiate goal.

“Third periods have been our best period all year,” head coach Adam Nightingale said after the game. “We take pride in being a really good third period hockey team.”

Nightingale also mentioned the team’s resiliency near the end and the Spartans’ push to believe they could win despite being down 3-0.

“Number one, you’ve gotta believe you can win,” he added. “You can’t play the game wondering if you’re gonna lose or worried about losing.”

For Basgall, he’s happy to get his first collegiate goal out of the way.

“Jagger (Joshua) is just a big body in front, so I use him to my advantage,” Basgall said. “I started to learn that Nico (Müller) and Karsen (Dorwart) were getting covered so I tried to put something in front of the net and open stuff up. And it happened to go in.”

Next week, Michigan State will play host to the Long Island Sharks, who are 1-2-1 on the season. The Sharks just took a 1-0 loss to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Long Island’s first two-game series against any team is actually against Michigan State.

After the split, MSU moves to 2-2 on the season.