Michigan State hockey downs Ferris State behind Khodorenko's hat trick
Fresh off a two-game sweep of No. 18 Cornell last weekend, Michigan State hockey (4-1) earned a commanding 5-3 victory over Ferris State (3-4) Friday night at Munn Ice Arena. The night was highlighted by the play of junior center Patrick Khodorenko, who secured a hat trick along with the game-winning goal for the Spartans.
Rounding out Khodorenko’s line were junior forward Taro Hirose and sophomore forward Mitchell Lewandowski who each assisted three goals and were major contributors to his career night.
The Spartans put pressure on the Bulldogs early and often, as six minutes into the first period, senior defenseman Zach Osburn hit a shot from the point past Ferris State keeper Justin Kapelmaster. MSU continued to apply pressure, eventually breaking through again four minutes later.
As Lewandowski entered the zone, he made a drop-off pass to the trailing Khodorenko, who in turn dropped the puck off to a trailing Hirose. Hirose fed Lewandowski at the top of the right circle for a shot that rattled the right post and eventually found the back of the net.
“That line – they create an awful lot,” coach Danton Cole said about the play postgame. “As you saw in Lewandowski’s goal, they’re able to create stuff out of nothing. That was three guys basically standing still at the blue line. There was a little turnover. They just fill lanes and find things. We see that a lot. It happens a lot in practice. They move the puck real well.”
In the final minute of the period, MSU took advantage of a power play opportunity through Khodorenko. Winning a face off in the offensive zone, the junior center then received a pass from senior forward Cody Milan and sent a shot past Kapelmaster.
In the second, MSU continued to control the puck, but found little success throughout most of the period. The Spartans’ junior goalkeeper John Lethemon was challenged by the Bulldogs, making nine saves after only having to make six in the first. Ferris State nearly broke through when forward Liam MacDougall had a breakaway chance after slipping underneath MSU’s back line at the end of his penalty.
Ferris State’s best chance up until that point was saved by Lethemon. Just when it seemed like the Bulldogs would carry some momentum into the third, the Spartans would convert their second power play goal. Khodorenko wristed another goal from the right circle, finishing a buzzer-beater. Upon review, the referees determined that Khodorenko scored with .2 seconds remaining in the second.
Three minutes into the third, Ferris State would threaten the Spartans’ comfortable lead. Forward Hunter Wendt took advantage of Lethemon giving up a long rebound, netting the put-back to put the Bulldogs on the board. Three minutes later, Wendt would strike again, this time on a breakaway as he sent a shot past Lethemon.
“(That’s) pretty much what we expect with a Michigan State-Ferris State game,” Cole said. “It was a good battle. We talked about it with the guys all week that they’re a blue-collar team a little bit like us and that’s why we’ve had a lot of good games over the years.”
With two minutes remaining in the game, Khodorenko would complete his hat trick on a deflection of freshman defenseman Dennis Cesana’s shot, essentially sealing the victory.
“He’s (Khodorenko) been very good. He’s had a lot of chances,” Cole commented. “He's scored some nice goals. He hasn't been on the score sheet maybe as much as Taro and Lewey (Lewandowski) but he's been outstanding. He's been a horse. He was very, very good last Saturday night and I think we ride off Patty (Khodorenko) a little bit more than people realize.”
Ferris State’s Jason Tackett would tack on one more for the Bulldogs with 1:13 remaining, but it was too little too late. The Bulldogs empty net in the final minute failed to produce another goal, as the contest ended 5-3.
The Spartans travel to Big Rapids, Mich. to complete their home-and-home with Ferris State Saturday at 7 p.m.