Michigan State hockey (10-14-15, 6-9-4 Big Ten) fell to Michigan (11-11-6, 7-7-4) 5-3 Friday night at Yost Ice Arena in a game whose score accurately reflected each team’s performance.
Michigan earned their first win against MSU this season.
“Michigan played well and they skated better than us definitely for the first 40 minutes,” MSU coach Danton Cole said. “I didn't think that energy and emotion was on our side and it's hard to play hockey that way, so give them credit. We'll have to find a little more of that tomorrow.”
The Spartans were clearly outmatched from the drop of the puck, as the Wolverines took the lead. They would not relinquish through the three periods of play; Michigan claimed 36 shots to MSU’s 23.
Freshman goaltender Drew DeRidder made his fifth consecutive start in net for MSU and was impressive despite allowing five goals, stepping up to make timely saves that kept the Spartans in contention.
“Obviously on the defensive side of it we want our guys to be better and we'll have to straighten a few things out,” Cole said. “I thought we got caught staring at the puck a few times and not covering and not helping on the back side as well. But we have to be better at that. We can't leave a Drew all alone.”
The Wolverines would strike first, as Quinn Hughes assisted Jack Becker to put U-M up 1-0 in just over three minutes of play.
The Spartans would fail to create many chances until the latter minutes of the opening period, as junior forward Taro Hirose failed to get shots through Wolverine defensemen.
MSU would remain scoreless until the final minutes of the opening period after the Spartans’ much-improved penalty kill unit fended off sophomore forward Austin Kamer’s holding penalty. Hirose gained the zone, finding freshman defenseman Dennis Cesana who assisted junior forward Sam Saliba’s fourth goal of the season. The game-tying goal silenced the Yost crowd buzzing on U-M’s power play chances.
The first would end with the score still tied, despite the Wolverines outshooting the Spartans 11-6.
The Wolverines would continue the trend set in the first, scoring within three minutes as Michael Pastujov scored from Jake Slaker’s feed from behind the net, and giving the Wolverines the 2-1 lead held until the final buzzer.
“They were going downhill on us a little bit too much. We weren't as good as getting pucks behind them and taking the game to them,” Saliba said. “It was kind of vice versa. They were taking it to us and I thought we just got on our heels a little bit there. We thought we were in a good spot. We didn't think we had our best first period and to be 1-1 we realized where we were at. We just came out flat in that second.”
MSU would fail to create significant scoring chances throughout the second that seemingly had the referees mitigating tensions after every whistle.
Jack Becker would do his part for Michigan with just over five minutes remaining in the second. As Will Lockwood sent a shot into traffic, the puck took an unfortunate bounce for MSU and awaited Becker’s rebound to put the Wolverines up 3-1.
Tensions remained high throughout the period, as freshman center Adam Goodsir engaged with Nicholas Boka after the whistle, causing senior wing Brennan Sanford to take a cross-checking penalty.
The coincidental penalties along with the minor would expire, but Michigan would capitalize once again.
Lockwood added a goal of his own, tipping Jack Summers’ shot from the point to give Michigan a commanding 4-1 lead as they headed into the final period.
As DeRidder continued to keep MSU in the game, the Spartans’ offensive spark would provide them with signs of life.
“I thought we played with more desperation,” Saliba said. “We weren't guessing as much as we were just going and that led to some chances - a power play, a power play goal. So we’ve got to come out tomorrow with that same mindset.”
As freshman center Adam Goodsir was waved out of the circle, junior wing Logan Lambdin won the draw decisively to sophomore wing Austin Kamer who sent a wrist shot past the glove side of Hayden Lavigne before he could react; the score would stand at 4-2 after four minutes of play in the third.
In the latter half of the period, Michael Pastujov netted a shot that was waved off and sent to review for goaltender interference. The call would be reversed, and the Wolverines would lead 5-2.
Minutes later and amidst heavy traffic, freshman wing Wojciech Stachowiak would bring MSU back into contention, setting the score at 5-3 with just under five minutes to play. A Cesana tripping penalty would halt all chances for a comeback, however, ending the contest at 5-3 in favor of U-M.
The Spartans will look to rebound Saturday at 7 p.m. at Little Caesars Arena.