Hildebrand's shutout leads MSU hockey to 5-0 victory vs. New Hampshire
If MSU (3-3-1) was at all fazed at its 2-3-1 start to the season, they didn’t show it Friday night, as they were able to come away with a 5-0 victory against New Hampshire.
“I thought we played great team defense tonight,” said MSU senior goaltender Jake Hildebrand, who was able to come away with his 12th shutout of his career Friday night. “We know they’re really skilled and like to play fast in the transition, I thought we did a great job of controlling the puck.”
The Spartans were able to jump out an 1-0 lead on the coattails of red hot forward Mason Appleton. Mackenzie MacEachern sliced through the zone off UNH goaltender Danny Tirone, and it was picked up by Captain Michael Ferrantino. Ferrantino grabbed the puck from the low circle, drove behind the net where he found Appleton right on top of the crease for the easy tap in goal at 13:50 of the first period.
New Hampshire, known for its speed in all zones was held in check by the disciplined positioning of the Spartans. The Spartans staunch focus forced UNH out of synch; a large factor in UNH only producing five shots on goal in the period.
“I thought we defended pretty darn well,” head coach Tom Anastos said. “I thought our forwards did a good job of transitioning back and forcing them (UNH) to make plays under pressure.”
The Spartans kept clogging the UNH lanes, and thwarted every UNH attempt to break loose. Of UNH’s five shots, only two could be counted as quality. MSU would keep up the pressure and turn UNH turnovers into opportunities. MSU generated a staggering 18 shots on goal and would take a 1-0 lead into intermission.
UNH would seem to find their rhythm again, and started off the second, strong. The Wildcats’ speed shown through early as they began to try and stretch the MSU defense by flying a guy out of the zone. This gave the Spartans fits, but as he always does, Hildebrand bailed out the Spartans.
The Wildcats were awarded their first of two powerplays of the night on a Carson Gatt interference at 9:30 of the second period. An unrelenting penalty kill largely kept UNH at bay. Each Wildcat chance was turned aside by Hildebrand.
UNH however, picked up momentum causing the Spartans to scramble in their own end. UNH looked poised to score until an undisciplined Matias Cleland was called for roughing in front of the net. Momentum would flip just a minute later.
The Spartan powerplay, on a 20 try, drought broke through after a hustle play in the corner by MacEachern. MacEachern fendend off a defender in the corner found Ferrantino behind the net. Ferrantino wasted no time as he found Villiam Haag’s stick all alone in front. Haag punched it in for his first goal of the year and gave the Spartans a 2-0 lead.
“If you bring down to one simple thing, I thought we had way more chemistry throughout our lineup,” Anastos said. “I thought we moved the puck way better, thought we managed it way better.”
The Spartans took the momentum into the third, and then some. MSU wasted no time in choking whatever life UNH had left.
JT Stenglein continued his career year, and found the twine for a fourth time this season after he took a Joe Cox pass and drove to the net. He walked right around both the defender and goaltender Tirone and pushed the puck into the back of the net.
The night kept getting worse for UNH when Joe Cox picked up the just outside the blueline. Down a man on the penalty kill, Cox sped down the ice with only one man to beat. He toe-dragged around the UNH defender, faked a forehand shot, slid the puck to his backhand, and flicked the puck over the shoulder of Tirone.
With MSU up 4-0, they poured on the pressure. Six minutes and twenty seconds later freshman Cody Milan would join in on the scoring, when he stole the puck in the slot, hesitated allowing a UNH defender to slide out of his path, then snapped a shot low stick behind Tirone making it 5-0.
“I think we just came out and we were ready,” Haag said. “We did small different things, easy stuff but it was also very good for the team.”
MSU takes on UNH in the second of the two game series Saturday at 7:05 p.m.