Penalties hinder ice hockey in possible comeback against U-M
DETROIT — As rivalry week continued this weekend at Little Caesars Arena, the Spartans and Wolverines kept the energy alive in a fight to win the "Duel in the D" trophy.
For sophomore forward Patrick Khodorenko, the game intensified over the weekend but the Spartans needed to stay out of the box after taking a total of five penalties with one of them as a five-minute major.
“It was probably more intense,” Khodorenko said. “There were a lot of hits out there and a lot of penalties, especially on our end. We have to kind of limit that, but it was a pretty intense game.”
Lead goal scorer freshman forward Mitchell Lewandowski received his second ejection from a game this season after knocking U-M’s junior forward Brendan Warren from behind and received a five-minute major and a 10-minute game misconduct for his action.
Head coach Danton Cole said he feels even with the loss of Lewandowski, his team was able to perform offensively with the help of forwards freshman David Keefer and sophomore Taro Hirose to produce goals for the team.
“It moves everything around,” Cole said. “Guys got to jump in. We have to keep (Lewandowski) in the games if we can. The guys did a good job after that.”
With only being down by one goal, the Spartans continued to fight throughout the game to avoid a sweep and their fourth loss to the Wolverines this season.
Hirose said he felt his team could have taken the easy way out and stop performing, but went on to score two goals in a battle to the finish.
“I think we sort of focus on the positive,” Hirose said. “We were down 2-0 going into the third period. It would have been easy to quit there, but we pushed back even when we were down 3-1.”
During the heated match-up, 19,515 fans filled Little Caesars Arena to be a part of the first "Duel in the D" game at the new arena filling it with chants of “Go Green, Go White” after both Spartan goals.
Hearing those chants gave the team the chills and they felt the Spartan crowd coming together.
“Every time we scored you sort of got chills as the crowd was shouting 'Go Green and Go White,'” Hirose said. “I think that sort of pushed us on and it’s just awesome to be a part of.”
During the third period, junior forward Cody Milan looked for his chance to score a goal for his team, only to have U-M’s junior defenseman Joseph Cecconi save the puck before crossing the red line. The team saw this as another chance to produce more, but failed to do so.
Cole said he is pleased with the team’s performance and said they should always take out the positives in the game to bring more victories in the last few games left in the season.
“We want wins, obviously,” Cole said. “There was an awful lot of good there. ... The guys gave us all they can tonight. No complaints.”