FINAL: MSU hockey eliminated by Buckeyes, concludes 2016-17 season
In one final gasp, the Spartans finished a treacherous 2016-17 season — ousted by the No. 3-seeded Ohio State University in the Big Ten Tournament, 6-3.
The game was a microcosm of the year. The MSU hockey team would show flashes of talent and fight, only to ultimately fail at producing a consistent 60 minutes.
All seemed lost within the first six minutes of the game as the Buckeyes commanded a 2-0 lead. Buckeye forward Mason Jobst firmly planted his stick on the effort, recording a goal and an assist on Ohio State's first two scores.
However, with the momentum gracing the Buckeyes' side in dominant fashion, it would be the Spartans who fueled a ferocious run. After senior forward Villiam Haag found the back of the net on a wrist shot from the slot, the tides began to swing.
Soon thereafter, it would be freshman forward Patrick Khodorenko with a stunning feed to junior forward Dylan Pavelek for the goal. Suddenly, the Spartans netted the equalizer, 2-2.
MSU would stick the final nail in its run as freshman forward Sam Saliba bested Buckeye goaltender Matt Tomkins. Sophomore forward Mason Appleton fired a wrist shot from the top right circle and Saliba redirected the puck.
The Spartans had capitalized, bringing a 3-2 lead into the first intermission.
However, the Buckeyes, with dreams of the NCAA Tournament in mind, would net the tying goal 13:54 into the second period. Buckeye forward Brendon Kearney — a Northville, Mich. native — shot a wrist shot from the right circle, tying the score.
The final intermission had the teams tied, 3-3, leaving just 20 minutes to decide the victor.
As the game reached its final stages, it would be Ohio State forcing the issue and reminding the Spartans who the better team was. Within the first 3:51 of the final period, the Buckeyes scored three consecutive goals — a string of four total unanswered, which put the game out of the Spartans' reach.
Just 1:38 into the final period, Buckeye forward David Gust scored twice, aiding Ohio State's cause. The first came on a rebound with the ensuing wrist shot besting junior goaltender Ed Minney. Just 1:13 later, it was Gust again with another wrist shot, stretching the Buckeyes' lead to two.
Despite a number of opportunities to shed the deficit, MSU closed the game with a silent whimper. While the efforts of the Spartans led to a competitive game, it will be the Buckeyes ultimately advancing to the Big Ten Tournament semifinal.
As Joe Louis Arena reaches its final days standing, MSU concludes its time at the historic arena with a final record of 88-65-8. On the season, the Spartans failed to collect double-digit wins, recording a dismal 7-24-4 record.