With a roster flush with fresh faces, the MSU hockey team struggled to find consistency in its weekend road series against No. 4 Miami (Ohio).
After falling behind 2-0 on Friday at Cady Arena in Oxford, Ohio, the Spartans (4-6-2 overall, 3-4-1-1 CCHA) rallied to a 2-2 tie before losing the extra point in a shootout defeat. The next night, the Spartans were shutout 2-0 by the RedHawks to end the series and send the Spartans into a bye week on a sour note.
The last time head coach Tom Anastos and the Spartans visited Oxford, they saw their CCHA Tournament hopes come to an end in a physically dominating sweep during the 2011-12 season. As was the case a season ago, offensive cohesiveness factored into the way the series went for the Spartans.
“We didn’t have any offensive rhythm whatsoever, and we expended a lot of energy killing that major penalty in the second period,” Anastos said in a release on Saturday. “I thought that our defense played really hard (Saturday), and (freshman goalie Jake) Hildebrand was outstanding again. The story here is that we just couldn’t get the offense going.”
Although Hildebrand made 34 saves to give MSU an opportunity to win, the Spartans simply couldn’t climb back in on Saturday. The RedHawks netted goals by forwards Curtis McKenzie (first period, 12:02) and Alex Wideman (third period, 16:15) to hop on take the final game of the series.
The Spartans only mustered 13 shots on the evening and accumulated five penalties for a total of 21 minutes in the game.
On Friday, forwards Alex Gacek and Wideman put the RedHawks ahead with tallies past Hildebrand in the first (11:15) and second period (5:47), respectively.
However, the Spartans were able to respond less than two minutes after the Wideman goal, starting with a goal by sophomore forward Matt Berry to bring the score to 2-1.
With the time waning in the second frame, junior defenseman Jake Chelios found the back of the net on a hard shot to knot the game, which was enough to force overtime.
After a scoreless extra frame, which counts for a tie in the standings, the RedHawks capitalized on a pair of shots in the shootout to steal an extra point in the CCHA standings.
“I thought that we really played hard, and that our players battled tonight,” Anastos said in a release on Friday. “I liked our effort and mentality. That’s a pretty good Miami team, and it was important for us to come out and get a good start on the weekend. I liked the way our players came out tonight and fought back into the game after going down two goals.”
The Spartans return to the ice for the first of two-game homestand at 8:05 p.m. on Nov. 30 against Ohio State.