MSU hockey sustains its lead, defeats Ohio State 4-2
MSU hockey’s season (6-17-2) has been a disappointment to its players, but that didn't stop them from giving it all they had in a gritty 4-2 win at Ohio State.
The win over the Buckeyes (7-14-2) was the Spartans first since Dec. 11.
The unlikely scorer, Dylan Pavelek, gave the Spartans the lead only three minutes into the opening frame. Pavelek picked up the puck in the slot fended off an OSU defender and shot the puck off another Buckeye in front and in behind goaltender Christian Frey.
MSU flew from then on, surpassing a quick-strike Buckeye offense with a tenacious forecheck resulting in an unusual sustained Spartan attack. Led by the forecheck, MSU’s cycling of the puck may have been the best it had been all season, as MSU retained the puck in the Buckeye end for over one minute multiple times in the game.
Just past the halfway point of the opening frame captain and senior forward Michael Ferrantino would be on the receiving end of a ferocious forechecking effort by linemate and junior forward Mackenzie MacEachern. MacEachern walled off the Buckeye forward, freeing the puck to Ferrantino who waltzed in off the wall and snapped a shot over the blocker of Frey.
MSU’s 2-0 lead lasted for just over seven minutes before Nick Schilkey collected the puck off the draw and watched his rocket hit the twin behind MSU goalie Jake Hildebrand. The perfectly executed face-off play by the Buckeyes would put Ohio State down one heading into the break.
The Spartans second "lucky bounce" goal of the night again came off a Buckeye skate in front of the net. Freshmen and East Lansing native Brennan Sanford circled behind the net dashed out front with the puck and a buckeye on his wrists. His shot was weak because of the pressure on his wrists but the puck had enough to bank off a skate and trickle over the line making it 3-1 MSU.
Sanford’s goal was a late one that gave MSU a cushion to work with and use as motivation to strengthen a strong second period performance. The Spartans held the puck for the majority of the period, ripping off 14 shots and peppering Frey in an offensive performance the Spartans have lacked since their last win.
The third period became a trial in lockdown mode for MSU. OSU turned up the pressure forcing MSU to the defensive end and its fortitude would be put to the test after Mason Jobst walked right down the slot avoiding sticks masterfully and ripping a shot under the glove of Hildebrand to make it 3-2 with 16:53 to play in the game.
Hildebrand answered for the Spartans when the defense in front of him broke down as he stopped seven shots in the period giving him a total of 19 saves in the period. Thwarting the attack by the Buckeyes, the Spartans sealed the game up with 1:10 to play as MacEachern sent the puck into the empty net from center ice capping the scoring at 4-2.
MSU picked up its first win since a 4-3 victory over Wisconsin on Dec. 11. It also happens to be the Spartans first true road win and an important one, too, as the win propelled MSU to a tie for fifth in the Big Ten standings with Wisconsin.
The Spartans take on the Buckeyes again Saturday at 7 p.m. A win vaults them to a tie for fourth with the Buckeyes.