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MSU hockey defeats U.S.A. Development Team in exhibition

December 4, 2016
Freshman center Sam Saliba (10), USA forward Josh Norris (14) and USA defenseman Phil Kemp (22) go after the puck during the first period in the exhibition game against U.S. National Team Development Program U-18 Program on Dec. 4, 2016 at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans led the first period, 2-1.
Freshman center Sam Saliba (10), USA forward Josh Norris (14) and USA defenseman Phil Kemp (22) go after the puck during the first period in the exhibition game against U.S. National Team Development Program U-18 Program on Dec. 4, 2016 at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans led the first period, 2-1.

For the first time in nearly a month, Munn Ice Arena was the host of a game for the MSU hockey team. The Spartans would face off against the USA Hockey National Team Development Program in an exhibition match, where they would skate away with a 5-1 win.

Among the starting line of the national team, it trotted out two future Spartans. The first, forward Tommy Miller, has already signed his national letter of intent to the green and white during the early signing period. The other, Matt Miller, gave a verbal commitment in the past.

MSU also dressed a few extra players than the usual allotted 18, getting some players extra experience. Forward Chris Knudson along with defenseman Anthony Scarsella saw some time on the ice in the match.

The game started off quickly, with senior forward Thomas Ebbing scoring a goal 5:04 into the match. It came off a rebound as the Spartans held the early lead. Just 1:43 after, though, 6-foot-3 forward Joey Cassetti netted the equalizer on a slapshot that zoomed past freshman goaltender John Lethemon.

With the score knotted up, Chrcek scored his first career goal as a Spartan. Unfortunately, due to the nature of exhibition games, the score won't go down in the official record books.

The period came to a close with MSU leading, 2-1. The Spartans held the early shots on goal lead, 13-6, as the opportunities were plentiful against the national team. 

The team would come back onto the ice for the next period on the man-advantage. Later on, during a different power play, sophomore forward Mason Appleton extended the lead on a one-timer from the blue line, making the score, 3-1.

With MSU already in charge with a multi-score lead, the Spartans continued to pile on as senior forward JT Stenglein scored right after a face-off, in a 4-1 game. The home team would take the three-score cushion to the locker room with just 20 minutes separating itself from a win.

The Spartans, through two periods of play, were dominantly in front against the national team. They held a 31-9 lead on shots on goal, more than tripling the U-18 squad.

The extra chances continued to come which led to the Spartans fifth goal of the match. Sophomore defenseman Zach Osburn was the recipient on a one-timer which rattled around inside the net once it left his stick.

With the game in the Spartans' favor, the match would go on to conclude, with the green and white prevailing, 5-1. Five different Spartans scored while Lethemon recorded 14 saves in a balanced team effort.

The Spartans will be back in action next weekend as they begin Big Ten conference play. The team will host the University of Minnesota in a weekend series Dec. 9-10 at Munn. Both games will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

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