The turn of the calendar has not been kind to the Michigan State Hockey team. After falling in both of their games in the 53rd annual Great Lakes Invitational on Jan 1. and 2., the Spartans continued their skid by dropping the first of two home games to No 8. Ohio State 4 to 1 .
“Not much to say after tonight,” said Michigan State coach Danton Cole. “I think the lessons keep coming we got to keep figuring things out.”
The Buckeyes scored three goals within the first minutes of the periods while shutting out the Spartans until midway through the third period.
Tanner Laczynski led the way for the Buckeyes in points with a game high three (one goal and two assists). Brennan Sanford, Sam Saliba, and David Keefer each picked up a point to lead the Spartans.
With the loss the Spartans fell to 8-12-1 overall and 2-8-1-1 in the Big Ten while Ohio State improved to 13-4-4 on the year and 6-4-1 in conference play.
Throughout the contest, Michigan State played with low energy and looked disengaged. Player’s heads were down early and often.
“The first period we were pretty average,” said Cole.
The Spartans were out-classed by the No. 8 Buckeyes, quickly finding themselves in a 2-0 whole after the first period. The struggles started early, :33 seconds after the opening face-off to be precise. Sasha Larocque put Ohio State up 1-0. While on the power-play Kevin Miller added a second 5:25 later.
“We got twisted a little bit in coverage and the shot got through,” said Cole regarding the first goal. ” I don’t think John (Lethemon) saw it.”
Larocque’s goal came from a slap-shot at the top of the offensive zone that beat Michigan State goaltender John Lethemon. Miller’s goal was set up after John Wiitala pulled the puck out of a scrum on the boards and found Miller wide open in front of the net.
It took :32 seconds into the second period for the Buckeyes to double their lead. Chelsea, MI native Ronnie Hein scored his first goal of the year to put Ohio State up 3-0 :15 seconds into the period. Tanner Laczynski made it 4-0 :17 seconds later forcing a goalie change from Michigan State.
Lethemon lasted just 20:32 and finished with 12 saves before being yanked in favor of Ed Minney. Minney came on strong in relief posting a shutout through almost two periods while saving all 11 shots he faced.
“I thought Ed (Minney) did a great job,” said Cole. “Im proud of how he played today and also how he has kept himself engaged. He has handled himself extremely well. It reflects very well on him as a man and as an athlete.”
With 9:50 remaining in the third, Sanford put away any talks of a shutout by recording his fourth goal of the year. The Spartans forced a turnover inside the offensive zone and Sanford sent the puck past Ohio State goaltender Sean Romeo, off iron, and into the top right corner of the net to bring Michigan State within three goals at 4-1.
“Well we one that period 1-0,” said Cole. ” I told the guys after that they started working in the third. Im a proponent on little victories. I think you have to take every one that you get.”
Michigan State will be back at Munn Ice Arena tomorrow night, looking for more than just “little victories”, to conclude their weekend series with the Buckeyes. Puck-drop is set for 7:05 p.m.