In a preview of future Big Ten play, MSU and Penn State hockey took the ice for the first time against each other, in which MSU came out on top, 5-3.
The Spartans picked up the lead 12 minutes into the game with a goal by freshman forward Michael Ferrantino. He carried the puck from the right boards toward the crease, backhanding the puck into the net.
“It seems like when we score the first goal, we get a good boost from that,” Ferrantino said. “It was really nice tonight to get the first one, and it seemed to really energize us for the rest of the first.”
The first period drew to a 1-0 close, but the second period would prove much more eventful.
Early in the middle frame, sophomore forward Tanner Sorenson received a long pass sophomore defenseman R.J. Boyd, taking off on a breakaway and putting the Spartans up by two.
Penn State forwards Tommy Olczyk and Taylor Holstrom quickly would tie it up with consecutive goals.
With about four minutes to go in the second period, MSU senior forward Kevin Walrod got his stick on a long pass from junior defenseman Jake Chelios and put the Spartans back on top, but that lead would only last for 14 seconds.
Right off the faceoff, Penn State took off in an offensive surge which resulted in forward David Glen tying the game.
“The team talked for a bit saying we had to come out tougher and win the period and win the game,” Sorenson said of the locker room talk between the second and third frames.
“Coach came in and basically repeated what we were saying to each other, so we knew we had to go out there and have our best period of the game.”
The third period was scoreless until MSU was put on a five-minute power play after Penn State defenseman Connor Varley received a five-minute major and a game misconduct with about seven minutes to play.
“I think the message on that was just ‘settle down, we have a lot of time, we don’t need to force anything,’” captain and junior forward Greg Wolfe said. “Tire them out first and then start taking the puck to the net.”
Sorenson scored his second of the night and the game’s winning goal by doing just that.
He netted a one-timer from inside the left circle, with assists by freshman defenseman Travis Walsh and Walrod.
“We knew we had a long power play, so we had time to be calm and just work it,” Sorenson said. “So Wally made a good play to Walsh in the slot and Walsh faked a shot and gave it to me. I kinda knew I had to get it off quick because the goalie was down. It felt great getting a power play goal, it’s been a struggle lately.”
MSU’s fifth and final goal was an empty-netter by Wolfe.
The Spartans had to deal with lineup shortages, with sophomore forwards Matt Berry out on a disqualification and Brent Darnell injured. Freshman forward David Bondra has been battling an upper body injury and he dressed for the game, but didn’t play.
Head coach Tom Anastos also made the decision to play junior goaltender Will Yanakeff instead of freshman Jake Hildebrand for the first time since Dec. 8. Yanakeff made 27 saves on Friday night’s matchup.
Despite having to play without a couple regular players, Anastos said it gave some Spartans the opportunity to gain more ice time than normal.
“Tough lineup tonight,” Anastos said. “I told the guys during the week that it’s one of the reasons that we do switch the lineups and you play guys in different positions and all those sorts of things because there are times in the game when that happens and tonight that happened.”
MSU and Penn State take the ice again Saturday night at 6:05 p.m. at Munn Ice Arena.