Michigan State hockey traveled to Colorado Springs last weekend, where they split a series against Colorado College 1-1.
The two matches against the Tigers (2-2) showed drastically different sides of the Spartans gameplay. The green and white suffered a devastating 1-3 loss on Oct. 25 before they came back with a dominating 5-1 victory the following day. Both matches came down to one simple thing -- the first goal.
Spartans drop first match 1-3
Despite outshooting the Tigers 27-24 in the first game, Michigan State struggled to get those shots through the goal.
The Spartans suffered an early deficit after the Tigers scored twice in the first period. The team was then able to defend their net in the second before the Tigers put a third goal through early in the third.
"I thought our (defensemen) did a horrible job of ... just not getting it there, just standing and there were way too many shots blocked and not enough positive plays. They have to be way better,” Head Coach Danton Cole said.
Junior Mitchell Lewandowski scored the sole goal for Spartans late in the third when it proved to late to make a comeback.
"There were some things that were decent, and we did some alright things," Cole said. "But everything was kind of 80% right. ... I thought in the second and third we pushed pretty hard, but we have to funnel more pucks to the net."
Opening strong, Spartans split series with 5-1 win in game two
The Spartans came back in game two with the strategy that sealed the Tigers victory the day prior, early scoring. In the first 6:48 of the game, Michigan State stacked up three goals against the Tigers.
"We came out and we had some chances and the puck went in the net, which was nice because we've hit a lot of posts," Cole said. "That was important for our psyche — you get a few to go and you feel a little better about yourself and loosen up and play better. I was very happy with that."
And the Spartans didn’t stop there. As a matter of fact, the team did not go one period without scoring, putting a puck past Colorado College's goaltender in both the second and third period to follow.
Ironically, the Spartans trailed the Tigers 36-30 in shooting, but the early lead proved one that Colorado could not come back from. The Spartans took control through early goals and dominating the ice by winning 47 face-offs against the Tigers' 21.
"We were getting a lot more stuff from the defense around the net and it was coming from everywhere,'' MSU senior defenseman Jerad Rosburg, who scored 75 seconds into the game said. "We were more determined to get the puck around the goalie and around the net.''
Looking ahead to regular season home opener against No. 4. Cornell
The Spartans come back home this week to host No. 4 Cornell in their regular season home-opening series Friday.
Friday's game will be the first of the regular season for Cornell. The Big Red ended their 2018-19 season with an impressive 21-11-4 record overall. They went far in the post-season, competing in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) championship, where they lost 2-3 in OT, and earned a bid to the NCAA tournament for their third straight year.
When the Spartans met with The Big Red last season in Cornell's home of Ithaca, New York, the Spartans swept the series 2-0. The green and white hold an all-time 6-2-1 lead over Cornell in the two programs' match history.
For the 2019-20 season, Cornell returns the majority of their key forwards along with the entirety of their goaltending corps. All-ECAC selections senior defenseman Yanni Kaldis, junior forward Morgan Barron and junior goaltender Matthew Galajda are powerhouse players that the Spartans should look out for this Friday.
The Big Red has played only two exhibition games so far this year, one of which was against the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) Under 18 team which they won 3-0.The Spartans also faced off against the USNTDP U-18's this season and won 2-1.
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Cornell and Michigan State will first meet on Friday at 7 p.m. at Munn Ice Arena, before meeting at the same time and same place on Saturday to close out the series.
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