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FINAL: MSU hockey falls to Northeastern after faltering on special teams

December 18, 2016
Sophomore forward Mason Appleton (27) and Minnesota forward Tommy Novak (17) go after the puck during the second period in the game against Minnesota on Dec. 9, 2016 at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans were defeated by the Gophers, 4-2.
Sophomore forward Mason Appleton (27) and Minnesota forward Tommy Novak (17) go after the puck during the second period in the game against Minnesota on Dec. 9, 2016 at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans were defeated by the Gophers, 4-2.

The MSU hockey team (4-9-1, 0-2 Big Ten) hoped to rebound from a series sweep by Minnesota when it faced Northeastern (6-7-4, 1-6-2 Hockey East) on Sunday, but had no match for the Huskies’ senior forward Zach Aston-Reese as the Spartans were defeated, 6-2.

Aston-Reese, who entered Sunday’s game as No. 12 in the NCAA in goals scored with 11, recorded three goals and an assist in their victory over the Spartans.

Both teams accumulated 13 power play opportunities. The Huskies scored three of their six goals off the power play while the Spartans picked up just one goal on the man-advantage.

The Spartans did receive some experience back at the blue line on Sunday. After missing the Minnesota series due to a lower body injury, junior defenseman Carson Gatt was in the lineup for Sunday’s game.

The match was scoreless until 3:29 into the first period. Aston-Reese deceived Spartan goaltender Ed Minney behind the net which gave way to an easy goal and handed the Huskies an early 1-0 lead.

After both teams failed to capitalize on great scoring opportunities following Aston-Reese’s goal, the Spartans went into the locker room after the conclusion of the first period trailing 1-0.

Despite a slow start for both teams offensively in the second period, an Aston-Reese power play goal gave the Huskies a momentum boost.

Sophomore forward Brennan Sanford was called for hooking, then Aston-Reese took advantage of the power play and scored his second goal of the contest with a wrist shot from the left circle, 12:10 into the second period, extending the Huskies’ lead to two.

The Spartans responded 1:52 later as freshman forward Taro Hirose fed sophomore forward Mason Appleton. Appleton’s slap shot just above the right circle snuck past Huskies goaltender Ryan Ruck cutting the deficit back to one.

With 3:56 remaining in the second period, a backhand pass from Hirose found the stick of freshman forward Patrick Khodorenko and his shot found the back of the net tying the game, 2-2.

Just a mere 10 seconds later, the Huskies regained the lead as Huskies forward Brendan Collier shot a puck that sailed passed Spartan goaltender Ed Minney giving Northeastern the 3-2 lead.

After a more physical showing from MSU in the second period, the Spartans managed to outshoot the Huskies 13-7 in the second frame, but trailed 3-2.

5:11 into the final period, Khodorenko was called for hooking and gave the Huskies their fourth power play of the game.

51 seconds later, Adam Gaudette extended Northeastern’s lead to two after knocking in a rebound that went past Minney. The goal gave the Huskies a 4-2 lead with 13:58 remaining in the game.

MSU had a chance to score on a two-man advantage later in the period, but Ruck came away with big stops to keep the Huskies lead at two.

The Huskies, on the power play with 8:14 remaining in the game, found the back of the net for the fifth time after a goal from Aston-Reese, which put the hopes of a Spartan comeback all but to rest. The goal was Aston-Reese’s third of the contest and earned him his first hat trick of the season.

With 1:20 left in the game, the Huskies added insult to injury after defenseman Jeremy Davies fed forward Patrick Schule and his shot, a few feet from the net, snuck by Minney putting the Huskies up 6-2.

The Spartans will now focus on Western Michigan when they face off on Dec. 29 in the Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Ice Arena. The game will be aired on Fox Sports Detroit. 

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