Michigan State hockey snapped its 13-game losing streak Saturday night with a 2-1 win against Penn State.
Friday night’s game against the Nittany Lions wasn’t as glamorous.
“We gave them that game,” Junior forward Erik Middendorf said postgame on Friday night. “We could’ve easily not turned those pucks over and done what we know what to do.”
After falling behind 1-0 to Penn State, MSU gathered itself and amassed a two-goal lead. Junior forward Josh Nodler put the Spartans on the board. Freshman defenseman David Gucciardi and Middendorf had goals as well.
Things fell apart for Michigan State in the final stanza, allowing four consecutive goals.
Less than a minute into the third period, Penn State’s fifth-year senior defenseman Adam Pilewicz brought the game within one. Almost immediately, the tone at Munn Ice Arena had changed and Penn State looked like the better team.
Penn State senior defenseman Paul DeNaples intercepted a pass from Michigan State freshman Jesse Tucker. DeNaples went right down the ice and put the puck past MSU goaltender Pierce Charleson.
With five minutes left in the game, Michigan State junior forward Jagger Joshua took a poor elbowing penalty. Then, 29 seconds later, Penn State’s Connor MacEachern scored a power-play goal, giving the Nittany Lions the lead.
PSU iced the game minutes later with an empty-net goal. The final score was 5-3.
On Saturday night, Michigan State needed a rebound. Goaltender Drew DeRidder, along with a string of Michigan State’s seniors, all started for Senior Night at Munn Ice Arena. Also in attendance were MSU basketball’s Gabe Brown, Tyson Walker and others, who had just defeated No. 4 Purdue at the Breslin Center earlier that day.
Gabe Brown and Tyson Walker just sat down here at Munn to take in some MSU hockey.— Graham Couch (@Graham_Couch) February 26, 2022
Saturday night, Michigan State hockey would take its first win since defeating Michigan Tech in the Great Lakes Invitational on Dec. 30.
MSU took a 1-0 lead in the first period when Nodler scored another goal. His two goals this weekend were his first since December. Penn State tied it up when Kevin Wall tipped in a pass in front of the net. Senior Adam Goodsir gave Michigan State the lead quickly, however, just before intermission.
The Adam Goodsir goal that beat the buzzer in the first period. pic.twitter.com/5IEMxooa7N— Michigan State Hockey (@MSU_Hockey) February 27, 2022
DeRidder held Michigan State’s one-goal lead for the rest of the game, stopping 38 shots. This includes an outstanding defensive play by senior defenseman Cole Krygier during a five-minute Penn State power-play where he saved a puck that was inches away from going in.
The penalty of note was a five-minute major from Krygier’s brother, Christian, who got called for cross-checking from behind. It served as a penalty and ejection for the senior, and ended his regular season with the Spartans.
MSU played defense well and was able to close out the win on Senior Night before the Big Ten playoffs. Michigan State finished the regular season at 12-21-1 overall, and last place in the Big Ten, with a conference mark of just 6-18-0-1.
Minnesota captured a sweep of Wisconsin, clinching its fifth Big Ten regular season title (mind you, the Big Ten has only been a hockey conference since 2014). This means that the Golden Gophers earn a bye week into the single-elimination semifinals.
No. 7-seed Michigan State will face No. 2-seed Michigan at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor for a three-game set. Meanwhile, No. 3-seed Notre Dame will face No. 6-seed Wisconsin, and No. 4-seed Ohio State will face No. 5-seed Penn State.
If, by any stroke of luck, Michigan State can win a three-game series against Michigan, it would go on to face No. 1-seed Minnesota by default since MSU is the lowest-possible seed. The Spartans are 0-4 against the Wolverines this season.
The first game against Michigan will begin at 7 p.m. on March 4, and air on FS2. The second game begins at 7 p.m. on March 5 and will air on Bally Sports Detroit. If necessary, the teams will play a third game on March 6. That would air on FS2.
All of the other Big Ten playoff games will air on BTN+.