Offensive surge not enough for MSU hockey, split series with Penn State
In a weekend when MSU hockey generated more goals than it had since early November, the offense still wasn’t enough for the Spartans, who split their series with Penn State.
MSU (7-16-3 overall, 5-12-1-0 CCHA) notched seven goals in the series, winning 5-3 Friday night and losing 3-2 Saturday night to the Nittany Lions (10-13-0).
The last series MSU scored that many goals was Nov. 9-10 when MSU scored eight goals against Michigan. Since then, the team has had consistent struggles with generating any type of offense.
And despite being able to find the back of the net last weekend, it will take more than that for the Spartans to repair their battered confidence.
“That’s not just scoring goals, but just to create offense, to make plays that allow us to be on the offensive more than on the defensive,” head coach Tom Anastos said. “We’re just going to have to find a way to keep chipping away at improving our confidence level.”
On Friday, sophomore forward Tanner Sorenson had two goals, while freshman forward Michael Ferrantino, senior forward Kevin Walrod and junior forward Greg Wolfe had one apiece.
Sophomore defenseman R.J. Boyd and senior defenseman Matt Grassi were the Spartans’ scorers Saturday.
MSU got up 2-0 both nights, and while that gave the Spartans momentum and energy for the rest of Friday night’s matchup, they fell off after the first period Saturday night.
“At times, all our lines were going, but it just wasn’t a 60-minute thing,” Wolfe said after Saturday’s game. “Until we can figure out a way to play 60 minutes of hockey every night, it’s really hard to win games back-to-back or consistently.”
Both nights, Penn State was able to quickly respond to the Spartan offense, coming from behind and tying the games.
Friday night’s match was 3-3 until Sorenson’s second goal with about six minutes to play, and Wolfe got an empty-netter to top the game off.
Saturday night proved a different story, and Penn State found three unanswered goals in the second and third periods, in which MSU remained scoreless.
“I’m going to have to give them credit,” Anastos said. “They played really hard, and they came into our building, played harder than we did for 60 minutes, and won the game after falling behind.”
Anastos said the team has been battling with handling momentum shifts all season. When teams steal any momentum, MSU has had troubles responding to gain back control of the game.
“It’s tough, but at the same time, we have to battle through it,” Grassi said.
“Teams are going to score goals. We have to learn to overcome them. It’s easier said than done, but if you get scored on, you just have to forget about it right away because it’s done, it’s in the past. The goal is up on the scoreboard and you just have to keep battling through.”