Spartans split series agains Ferris State, special teams shows mixed play
On Thursday night the MSU ice hockey team hosted Ferris State University in game one of the home-and-home series. The Spartans were unable to capitalize on their home portion, as the Spartans fell 4-1 in the opener.
Just two nights later in Big Rapids, Mich., the teams faced off once again at Ewigleben Arena for the second game of the series, where the Spartans rallied back from a two-goal deficit to win the match, 4-3.
Following the first match, head coach Tom Anastos sat down at his post-game press conference and said he was dissatisfied with his team’s performance.
“I thought we didn’t execute well enough,” Anastos said. “I think part of that was because of our frustration level during the course of the game that built up.”
The Spartans didn’t have trouble generating offense throughout the game, as they out-shot the Bulldogs 32-27. The home team struggled on special teams on both ends of the rink.
The power play — which came in at a bare 5-for-39 clip on the season — continued its lackluster appearance. MSU was able to score just once in its seven power play chances, unable to punish the Bulldogs for their in-game infractions.
“I think sometimes we’re looking for too perfect of a play, too perfect of a shot (on the power play),” Anastos said. “I think we just have to do a better job of finding seams to pucks through the net and try to outnumber people. We just haven’t done that. That has to be a focus. We talk about it a lot, but those decisions are made on the ice.”
Sophomore forward Mason Appleton — who was on the ice during MSU’s man advantage — said he saw both the potential of the team’s power play while also acknowledging the struggles of it.
“I thought here and there we were forcing stuff (on the power play) and didn’t take the simple shots that we needed to,” Appleton said. “We got a big goal on the power play, which we needed. But I think our power play can be better.”
On the other side of the puck, the penalty kill was arguably worse, allowing the Bulldogs to convert three times on four MSU penalties. In the past, the Spartans prided themselves on their penalty kill.
The Bulldogs’ second and third goals came 40 seconds apart, both on power plays. After the dust settled, MSU was
“It was a rough night for the penalty kill,” senior forward Joe Cox said. “Couple of little defensive mishaps. They got a lot of good, quirky shots. They got the bounces for that night, that’s for sure. I guess we’ll just have to go over the film on Friday and attack it again Saturday.”
Anastos said, compared to previous games, the penalty kill was too lackadaisical, which led to the string of scores.
“As a penalty killing group out there, it was too easy,” Anastos said. “They executed and we put them on ourselves and we gave up those three (goals) and dug ourselves in a hole and it was hard to fight back. We allowed some frustration to build.”
In a twist, game two of the series came at a different venue and city — Ewigleben Arena in Big Rapids, Mich. The home-and-home series continued Saturday evening as the teams were set to duel it out for another 60 minutes.