MSU hockey offense shines again in 7-4 victory, 2-0 sweep of UNH
Whatever sparked MSU’s shooting urge over the weekend, they might need to keep it. MSU (4-3-1) put on another clinic of shooting, skating, and electric plays Saturday, looking like a team finding its stride and exerting confidence in a 7-4 drubbing of New Hampshire (3-4-1).
“We expected a different game than last night,” head coach Tom Anastos said. “I thought their team was way better tonight than they were last night.”
“I give them lots of credit falling behind early, coming back,” Anastos went on to say. “Falling behind again, coming back, and I give our guys lots of credit to show the poise that we did to comeback and finish the way we did.”
MSU’s Joe Cox touched off the scoring for MSU right away, off a whistling wrist shot that found the twine over the shoulder of an unsuspecting Danny Tirone just 32 seconds in. Cox was the recipient of a JT Stenglein cross ice pass giving Stenglein his team leading ninth point of the season. Thomas Ebbing was also credited with an assist on the goal.
MSU continued where it left off on Friday night, making UNH pay for its recurring errors off an odd man rush when MSU Mason Appleton found the back of the net at 10:40, giving him two goals in as many nights. Travis Walsh and Michael Ferrantino were credited with the assists.
“Everything comes from practicing, just practicing mostly entering the zone, and avoiding turnovers at the blue line,” Brennan Sanford said of the key to his team's new found offensive success. “Just getting the puck to the net, shooting when we get a chance to shoot.”
It was only a matter of time before the highly touted UNH offense broke its scoreless streak and they did so on a Chris Miller wrist shot from the middle of the left circle found its way past an outstretched Jake Hildebrand with 5:55 to go in the first. Ara Nazarian and Cameron Marks credited the assists on the goal.
The first would end quietly with the Spartans up 2-1.
The second period would go as quietly as the first ended with neither side producing many quality opportunities through most of the period. The only disruption early on to the ebb and flow came on a backdoor goal from UNH’s Tyler Kelleher on the powerplay. Kelleher was set up by teammates Matt Dawson and Nazarian.
The game would tilt back and forth with both sides getting a chance to break the tie here and there. Physical play would dominate the game and caused a couple power plays for both squads, MSU would take advantage of its second.
Villiam Haag would score his second of the series off a Ferrantino shot that tipped off a UNH stick right to him and he wasted no time in blasting one into the empty net. Mackenzie MacEachern and Ferrantino would be awarded assists on the goal.
MSU finished 1-3 on the powerplay but would give up two powerplay goals in return, going 2-4 when on the penalty kill.
MSU would control the rest of the period limiting UNH to outside chances. the Spartans would take a 3-2 lead into the second intermission.
MSU flipped the switch in the third and scored just 3:53 into the period. A bad bounce off the glass found a lonely JT Stenglein in front of the net for an easy tap in goal, making it 4-2 MSU.
Stenglein now has 10 points in eight games.
However, MSU couldn’t sleep on the lead, as UNH responded with two goals in three minutes, tying the game at 4-4.
“We just thought no way, no way in our rink that we are going to let this happen,” Ferrantino said.. “There wasn’t any panic, just a workman like mentality and we’re going to find a way to get it done.”
The Spartans would pounce a minute and four seconds later when a net mouth scramble produced a rebound that landed on the stick of Sanford. Sanford roofed the shot into the empty net making it 5-4. It would prove to be the game winner. Travis Walsh would pick up the assist on the play.
A finally healthy Ryan Keller playing in only his third game this season would chip in the sixth Spartan goal from Cody Milan and Carson Gatt with 2:33 left in the game to put the Spartans in front 6-4.
“All four lines contributed tonight,” Ferrantino said. “There’s times when each kinda carried us throughout the game. I think that's what's so great about this team, is our depth.”
Mackenzie MacEachern, on assists from Thomas Ebbing and Ferrantino would add the dagger with 3.6 seconds left on an empty net goal. With the win, the Spartans improved to (4-3-1) on the year and swept the series 2-0 over UNH.
Hildebrand made 19 saves on 24 shots, and turned in another stellar performance, stopping key UNH chances on the doorstep in the last minute and throughout the game.
MSU travels to Boston College on Nov. 13 for a one game series with the top five ranked Eagles.