MSU hockey falls in overtime to Michigan Tech
All it takes is a few bounces to swing the momentum of a game, and they were abundant for tonight for Michigan Tech (7-4) as they defeated MSU (4-5-1) 5-4 in overtime.
“You never know how the puck is going to bounce,” senior forward Mackenzie MacEachern said. “It seemed to bounce their way today, but we’ll come back tomorrow stronger and hopefully a better result.”
Michigan Tech fed off the home crowd-like atmosphere its fans generated early, controlling most of the play for the first half of the first period. The Huskies would give their fans a chance to unleash their energy when right winger Alex Petan ripped home a rebound at 11:34 of the first period.
The Spartans would answer just over three minutes later on a Joe Cox backhand that squeaked by MTU goalie Jamie Phillips. Cox picked up the puck at the low circle, after a funny bounce off a MTU defenseman’s skate. Cox cut quickly to the backhand and caught Phillips by surprise.
Center Thomas Ebbing assisted on the goal and the Spartans and Huskies would remain deadlocked at 1-1 for only another three minutes.
MSU would get its first powerplay chance of the night and wouldn’t waste it. Circling the puck back to the blue line, Mason Appleton looked off a defender then slid the puck cross-ice to Zach Osburn. Osburn stick cocked, blasted a one timer past Phillips putting the Spartans up 2-1 with 5:14 remaining.
The Spartans would hold onto the lead heading into the first intermission.
The second period was an onslaught of goals touched off by MacEachern on the powerplay who took a Carson Gatt stretch pass, raced to the net, cut inside right in front of the crease, and slid the puck five-hole on Phillips. The Spartans went up 3-1 with 11:19 remaining in the second.
Tech would begin its comeback, when defenseman Joel L’Esperance’s shot saw its way through a crowd of players into the top right corner of the net, putting the Huskies one goal down with 10:15 to play in the second.
The Huskies would tie the game just over two minutes later when left winger Heinonen snapped one low circle that beat MSU goaltender Jake Hildebrand glove side.
“I give them credit,” head coach Tom Anastos said. “I give them credit for coming back and making plays when they needed to make them. They made more plays than us and ended up winning the game.”
MSU wasted no time in gaining the lead back when Cox streaking into the zone, found JT Stenglein all alone at the top of the circles. Stenglein, head up, walked and rocketed one along the ice past a unready Phillips, giving MSU a 4-3 advantage with 7:28 to play in the second period.
The period would end with MSU clinging to a 4-3 advantage.
It was all MSU in the third period, stifling MTU’s chances and allowing only five shots on goal. It was the fifth shot on net that would throw the momentum out of whack.
“I thought we had them on the ropes,” captain Michael Ferrantino said. “We were outskating them, out working them, we had them kind of tired, then the TV timeout happened.”
The TV timeout was a blessing and a figurative reset button for MTU. With a 1:40 remaining in the game, MTU defenseman Mark Auk, spun around at the point and wristed one through a cluster of bodies in the slot and over Hildebrand’s shoulder, tying the game at 4-4.
With seconds to go MSU had a chance to escape with a victory but a rebound right to Stenglein would not go on the ensuing shot, finding the post and then bouncing over the stick of Cox who had a chance to be the hero. It would be the closest MSU would come to winning in the next five-plus minutes. Deadlocked at 4-4, the game moved to overtime.
“We gotta figure a way to tighten up defensively,” Anastos said. “Giving up too many goals.”
Overtime began with MTU feeding off the momentum of its late goal. A barrage of chances were thwarted by Hildebrand and the Spartans, but a key faceoff in the Spartan end with 45 seconds left set up MTU for the win.
The Huskies won the faceoff and a puck thrown at the net ended up on Heinonen’s stick. He pushed the puck at the net, picked up his own rebounded, and slipped it underneath Hildebrand for a 5-4 Huskies victory.
“You can’t give up five goals at home, you can’t give up a goal with two minutes left in the game,” Ferrantino said. “You can’t give one up in overtime, it’s just tough.”
The Spartans return to action Sunday afternoon at 4:05 p.m.