If only the Michigan State Hockey team (6-19-3) could play against Michigan every night. The Spartans have tallied only two Big Ten wins this season, both coming against the Wolverines. Every other Big Ten series the Spartans have been swept. That trend continued Saturday night in Munn Ice Arena. In the first of two weekend series against #14 Ohio State (16-8-6), the Buckeyes were able to complete the sweep of Sparty with a 4-3 victory.
The Buckeyes scored the lone goal in the first 20 minutes via defenseman Matt Miller. On a power play Miller took a shot from the left point in the MSU zone and was able to get it past Spartan goal Ed Minney after Minney could only get a piece of it to put the Buckeyes up 1-0 eight minutes into the game. Michigan State had chances to lock the game up at one but could not convert on either of their two power plays. After the first period the Spartans led in shots on goal with a 9-6 advantage.
Ohio State grew their lead to 3-0 just one minute and 45 seconds into the second period by scoring 2 goals within 27 seconds of each other. The first goal came on the Buckeyes’s second power play of the night courtesy of Nick Schilkey who scored his team leading 23rd goal of the season. Ohio State’s third goal of the game was scored by forward Brendon Kearney who benefit off of a rebound that Ed Minney couldn’t fully grab. Though being down 3-0 early in the second period MSU did not put down their shield, matching OSU’s period total and scoring two goals of their own.
Michigan State’s first goal came from Logan Lambin. Lambdin tipped in a shot from the point by Carson Gatt past OSU goalie Christian Frey for his fourth goal of the season and to cut the Buckeyes lead to 3-1. Mason Appleton scored his team leading 11th goal of the season from just outside of the right face-off circle with six minutes remaining to bring Sparty within one of Ohio State at 3-2 entering the final period.
Ohio State continued their early scoring in the third period, needing only one minute and 48 seconds to find the back of the net for the fourth time of the game when Matthew Weis tallied his 9th geno of the season but again MSU would respond.
It took all of the time from Michigan State’s fourth power play of the game but they finally found the back of the net on the man-advantage when Sam Saliba scored his sixth goal of the season, third in the last four games, with six minutes remaining in the contest to bring the score back to one, 4-3.
For the second night in a row MSU failed to find a tying goal in the final minutes falling by one goal 4-3.
In between the pipes for Michigan State Ed Minney had yet again an average performance stopping 20 on OSU’s 24 shots on goal.
Talking about Minney’s performance in net MSU head coach Tom Anastos stated “I thought he made some good saves and I would like to review the goals he gave up.”
In Saturday night’s game both special teams units of MSU struggled to produce. After holding OSU’s nation leading power play unit to 0-3 last night, the MSU penalty killing unit struggled Saturday night giving two goals out of four chances. Michigan State’s power play unit struggles to create scoring chances going 1-4 with the goal coming in the last second of the last opportunity.
Talking about the penalty killing unit and the power play unit Anastos stated, ” I thought they made some adjustments from last night and they had some “puck luck” with the puck bouncing off some players. I knew that they would rush at us differently tonight and they did. I thought we did some stuff on the power play but we got to get more in the three opportunities we had in the first period.”
With the loss MSU has failed to beat Ohio State in three straight games. MSU’s loss also brings their Big Ten record to 2-10-2 as they sit in the basement of the conference.
The Spartans have now been swept in seven weekend series this season, four of them coming inside Munn Ice Arena.
Talking about getting swept again Anastos stated, “It is very disappointing. We have to find ways to put ourselves in positions to win.”
Michigan State will play their final home series of the season next weekend Friday Feb 24 and for senior day on Saturday Feb 25 when they host Penn State.