Tropp's big night leads to 4-1 win, series sweep
Forward leads nation in goals after hat trick
Corey Tropp wouldn’t have been able to imagine it entering the season.
After being suspended midway through last season for a violent slashing incident, the junior forward has netted goals in four straight games for the No. 14 MSU hockey team and leads the nation with 16 goals entering the holiday break.
His hat trick Saturday night at Munn Ice Arena propelled the Spartans past Bowling Green, 4-1, to earn the weekend sweep of the Falcons.
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“I’ve been fortunate to be the one that’s scoring them,” Tropp said. “I think anyone in our locker room is capable of being able to get that late goal. Lately, I’ve been on a good luck streak and hopefully that can carry over into the second half.”
With the win, the Spartans tied their highest win mark (12) entering the break under MSU head coach Rick Comley, who has been at the reins of the program for eight years.
Saturday’s game was the most physically demanding of the season for the Spartans, as the team had four players go into the locker room with injuries after the Falcons laid out several big hits, most of which resulted in penalties.
“We lost more players tonight than we have in the whole first half (of the season),” Comley said. “We were really running thin on bodies there in the end. It was hard-fought and scrappy. But it was a good, solid win for us. You want something positive like that to take into the break.”
The Spartans took control of the game early Saturday, keeping the puck in the Falcons’ defensive zone for the first four minutes of the game.
Because it was the last game before break, fans were encouraged to bring teddy bears to donate to charity and throw onto the ice when MSU scored its first goal.
But when junior defenseman Jeff Petry scored at 19:16 of the first period, he forgot about the teddy bear toss and was trying to protect himself when more than 400 teddy bears rained down on the ice.
Petry said his power play goal was a “great early Christmas present,” especially because Saturday’s game marked his 100th game as a Spartan. Petry also recorded two assists in the win.
“It seemed like I’ve been snakebit for awhile,” Petry said, after not scoring since Oct. 16. “I couldn’t get any shots through. The opportunity was there at the point and I got the puck and tried to put it on the net and hopefully get a good bounce, which we did.”
Bowling Green’s Tomas Petruska scored the Falcons’ lone goal at 16:02 of the second period on the power play.
Then it was all Tropp.
He scored his first goal of the game at 19:17 of the second period by finding a juicy rebound after Petry ripped a slap shot from the right face off dot. Tropp had a wide open net and simply had to tap the puck into the vacant goal.
His second goal came at 3:37 of the third period when he took a shot from the slot that deflected off a Bowling Green defenseman and went through the legs of the Falcons’ goaltender.
“I was just as surprised as their goaltender,” Tropp said of his fluky goal. “It hit a shin pad and took a weird bounce. But we’ve been struggling to score lately, so we’ll take them however we can get them.”
Tropp tallied his final goal – completing the natural hat trick – at 13:22 of the third period when he found himself at the right place at the right time, again banging in a rebound into the open net.
While Tropp might not have been able to imagine such a hot start, he said his hard-work in the offseason helped set up his success early year.
“After all that I went through last year, I wanted to keep motivated in the summer I wanted to come back and I didn’t want people to have that image of me,” Tropp said. “I’ve never been a player who’s played like that and I didn’t want that to be my lasting impression.”
Earlier this week, Comley said he would be disappointed with anything less than a sweep against Bowling Green. But now that the Spartans were able to accomplish the sweep, he thinks his team can come back after the break and be even better.
“It’s a challenge finding out how to take the next step” Comley said of the Spartans, who enter the break sitting in second place in the CCHA. “We talk to them about that all the time. We will reinforce the style of play. I want more from this team and I want them to want more,too.”