For the last six games, the MSU hockey team lost its offense.
Friday night, in a 3-1 win against No. 19 Ferris State, MSU (5-10-2 overall, 4-8-1-0 CCHA) found it again, as pucks started finding the back of the net and bounces starting going in the Spartans’ favor.
“It was just a solid effort from every guy,” captain and junior forward Greg Wolfe said. “We started getting the bounces with a couple of those goals, so that was a huge positive for us. We’ve been waiting for a while to have a game like that where the bounces do go our way.”
After closing out a scoreless first period, the Spartans capitalized about seven minutes into the second, creating an offensive surge starting in their defensive zone and working the puck across the ice into Ferris State’s net.
Senior defenseman Matt Grassi won the puck along the boards in MSU’s zone and made a pass to sophomore forward Brent Darnell in the neutral zone.
Darnell then tipped the puck to freshman Matt DeBlouw, who skated the puck into Bulldogs territory and pulled back before taking a shot on net.
The goal was awarded to sophomore forward Matt Berry, who tipped the puck past the goal line off DeBlouw’s shot.
With about five minutes left in the second, Ferris State tied it up with a slapshot from the blue line straight past freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand’s left glove.
“The goal we gave up, we got trapped on the ice,” head coach Tom Anastos said. “Rather than come together and make them shoot through a maze, we spread out and gave them a lane to shoot the puck. That was a mistake that when you get stuck on the ice sometimes, you can’t rally or dig deep enough to get the puck to deflect out of the zone or get something that you can get down the ice to get relief, it ends up in your net.”
The Spartans offensive mindset carried into the third period, as two more green and white clad players found the back of Ferris State’s net.
A minute and a half in, following a faceoff win by Wolfe, sophomore defenseman RJ Boyd took a shot from the blueline and senior forward Chris Forfar picked up the rebound and buried it.
Ten minutes later, sophomore forward Tanner Sorenson followed suit with a rocket past Ferris State goaltender CJ Motte.
He carried the puck into the opposing zone, did a spin move that knocked a defenseman off his feet and wound up for a hard shot toward the net.
“If I was lying, I’d say it went straight in,” Sorenson said. “It got tipped by their (defense), so I got kind of lucky, but if you throw it to the net, you get lucky like that sometimes. I guess the bounces were going for me.”
Following the game, the MSU athletics department officially announced the retirement of MSU hockey player Branden Carney, a redshirt freshman.
Carney fractured his C1 and C2 vertebrae during practice last season after going head-first into the boards during a drill.
His doctors determined that it is not in Carney’s best interest to play in any contact sports because of a lack of bone growth where he broke his C2, but he is able to live a normal and healthy life — just one without hockey.
“It was in the back of my mind,” Carney said of not being able to play. “I wasn’t trying to think about it too much. The first day I found out, after my appointment I was kind of shook up a bit, but everybody’s been great here supporting me, and getting a text from everybody on the team was kind of nice. (The texts were) just saying ‘You’re still a part of this team,’ ‘We still want you around.’ It’s been great having them.”
He still hopes to be involved in the game, whether it’s through coaching, video or just being around the team, he added.
“His family is disappointed, we’re disappointed for him,” Anastos said. “And yet I think it’s a miraculous recovery. You can stay involved in the game of hockey in many different ways. I’m just so thankful and grateful that he’s going to live a normal, healthy lifestyle, because a lot of people who had that injury, some aren’t as fortunate.”