EAST LANSING, Mich.-Three periods and a five-minute overtime period was not enough to decide a winner between the Michigan State Hockey team and No. 19 Michigan as Tony Calderone scored the game-winner in a shootout to lift the Wolverines to a 2-1 win.
After the Spartans failed to score on any of their three shootout attempts ,(Hirose, Lewandowski, Khodorenko), Calderone beat goaltender John Lethemon over his glove to secure Michigan’s win.
This was the second shootout that the Spartans have played in this season (Nov. 25 at Penn State) and have split both attempts.
“I thought the guys battled really hard and did a lot of good things,” said Michigan State coach Danton Cole. “It was a pretty even game. I don’t get too caught up in the shootouts. We talked about it as a tie and we have to come out and get a win tomorrow.”
The Spartans had the best chance to open the scoring. However, after 20 minutes Michigan State and Michigan were scoreless. At the 7:30 mark, Michigan defenseman Joseph Cecconi was given a five-minute major penalty as well as a game-misconduct for a hit to the head of Michigan State’s Jake Smith. Smith did not return following the collision.
“He (Smith) is a little banged up,” said Cole. “He won’t be playing tomorrow. That’s a given and that was a pretty bad hit.”
The Spartans managed just one shot on goal during the five minutes where they were a man up and struggled to maintain a fluid offensive attack. The inability for Michigan State to capitalize on that early chance served costly as the Wolverines found the back of the net first.
“I always give credit to the other team, especially on a five-minute power play,” said Cole . “I thunk our spacing was not very good and I think we got extended a bit. We kind of accepted being on the outside.”
At the 5:06 mark in the second period, Michigan defenseman Quinn Hughes put the Wolverines up 1-0 with a great individual effort for his second goal on the season. After receiving the puck in the left face-off circle, Hughes made a quick move to weave around Michigan State’s Butrus Ghafari and in sequence put the puck past Lethemon.
Lethemon finished the game with 37 saves on 38 Michigan shots.
“He (Lethemon) was really sharp,” said Cole. “He was out and he was confident. He made some look easy but he had some really good saves in there.”
The Spartans were forced to lay catch-up through the second period until forward Taro Hirose and defenseman Carson Gatt combined to tie the game at 1-1.
With 4:43 remaining in the second period, Hirose skated from the slot and found Gatt alone at the right goal-post. Gatt’s quick shot beat Michigan goaltender Hayden Lavigne for his career-best fourth goal of the season.
Lavigne finished 17 saves on 18 Michigan State shots.
With the loss the Spartans fell to 10-17-2 on the year and 4-13-1-2 in the Big Ten while Michigan improved to 14-13-2 on the year and 8-10-3-1 in the conference. The Wolverines have also won two out of the three meetings between the teams so far.
The season series between Michigan and Michigan State will conclude tomorrow night at Little Caesars Arena where the Spartans and Wolverines will play in the “Duel For The D”.
“Where we are at right now it is kind of fun,” said Cole. “I think they are fired up tomorrow. How often do you play for a trophy in the middle of February in Detroit.”