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Spartans excel on power play against Minnesota

January 20, 2019
Junior center Patrick Khodorenko (55) celebrates a goal during the game against Minnesota on Jan. 19, 2019 at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans defeated the Gophers, 5-3.
Junior center Patrick Khodorenko (55) celebrates a goal during the game against Minnesota on Jan. 19, 2019 at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans defeated the Gophers, 5-3. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

After defeating Minnesota 5-3 on Saturday night, the Spartans would take advantage of the extra man advantage to hold the lead. 

During the game, the Spartans went 3-for-4 in power play goals with total play time elapsed being 2:27. Michigan State only had a .210 goal-to-opportunity conversion percentage during overall power plays and a .158 percentage during Big Ten games heading into the matchup.

The first power play began at 13:59 and ended at 14:19 in the first period, giving junior forward Taro Hirose and freshman defenseman Dennis Cesana 20 seconds to assist sophomore forward Mitchell Lewandowski in scoring a goal. It brought the score to 1-1, as Minnesota scored at 4:52 in the first period. 

“When the power play is going, you get that mojo and that feeling that you’re going to go out there and at least get chances,” Lewandowski said. “Scoring three obviously puts you at a big advantage, especially when our penalty killed it like they did tonight. ... They got a good power play too, so our special teams are better tonight so that was a key moment to the game.”

The second power play began at 16:27 and ended at 16:34 in the first period, which gave Hirose and Cesana a chance to assist yet again to help junior forward Patrick Khodorenko score against Minnesota. The score became 2-1 in favor of the Spartans. 

“I think we were just moving the puck, keeping it simple and just running pucks tonight off the faceoffs when we had the chances,” Hirose said. “We weren’t looking too much for the perfect play, just to get into the net. And you saw (Milan) go there and just jam it in the net and working hard for pucks. ... (Minnesota) is more of a skilled team, they’re not a big hitting team so there’s a little more time and space out there.”

The third power play began at 08:50 and ended at 10:50 in the third period, with the goal scored by senior right wing Cody Milan with assists from Khodorenko and Cesana. With this third goal during the power play, the score rose to 4-1 Spartans. 

The fourth power play began at 10:50 in the third period, however no goals were scored during the play. The Spartans eventually triumphed over Minnesota, ending the game with a score of 5-3. The Spartans began the game with two goals in the first period, proving to their opponent and to their fans that they were in it to win it.

“We were scoring too quick, we needed to rest some of the other guys for the penalty kill,” coach Danton Cole said. “That was two real quick power play goals. And you know what, when they’re moving the puck like that five-on-five they’re tough. (Cesana) does such a great job running it out top and (Milan) has really bumped his game up. And I think two or three of our last probably five power play goals have been off retrievals or (Milan’s) kept the play alive so they were feeling it and that’s good."

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