Power play capitalization proved to be the major key to Michigan State Men's Hockey's opening game on Monday. The Spartans took down Western Ontario 6-1 in their exhibition season opener at Munn Ice Arena.
“The guys made some plays and got some pucks on net. We learned some things and things we will have to tighten up, some things that we like, but overall we wanted energy, we wanted some enthusiasm and the guys did a nice job with that,” Head Coach Danton Cole said before adding that the team, “Accomplished everything we wanted to tonight.”
In the first period, two early penalties against Western Ontario prompted back-to-back power plays for the Spartans that propelled the green and white offensive play into motion. For essentially the entire first period, the Spartans dominated the ice, putting 21 shots on goal as opposed to the Mustang’s five.
Seven minutes in, Michigan State’s Tommy Apap put a shot on the Mustang goal that deflected off of goaltender David Ovsjannikov’s stick. The puck landed back at the skates of Apap who shot the puck back, firing past Ovsjannikov and making the first goal of the Spartans's season, putting them up 1-0.
“There was a good screen and the goalie just didn’t see it, we got lucky there a little bit,” Apap said.
Later in the period, Western Ontario capitalized off of a power play prompted by a tripping penalty on Michigan State’s Wojciech Stachowiak. Just under a minute into the power play, Western Ontario was able to put three shots on Michigan State’s goal, one of which flew past MSU goalkeeper John Lethemon, tying the game 1-1.
Following the power play the Spartans continued to maintain their offensive dominance. Freshman Nicolas Muller from Switzerland made his first career goal before the end of the first period putting the Spartans up 2-1.
In the second period, Western Ontario turned a switch on, looking more alive and determined to tie the match back up.
The Mustangs more than doubled their shots on goal in the second period, prompting a goaltender switch from Lethemon to sophomore Drew DeRidder on the Spartan side with 10 minutes left to play. The switch stayed consistent with the team's strategy last season and Cole’s promise to continue to have the two contend for the number one spot at media day.
Shortly into his time on the ice, it was DeRidder and Western Ontario’s Franco Sproviero face-to-face at the Spartan net. Sproviero fired a hard hit shot that was miraculously saved by DeRidder, marking the biggest save of the game.
With a fairly back-and-forth second period, a Spartan power play prompted a goal with just under a minute left to play in the second period by Mitchell Lewandowski putting the Spartans up 3-1 going into the final period.
The Spartans came into the third period with similar energy as the first, offensive domination.
Just over 6 minutes in, Apap made a smooth pass to Spartan defenseman Cole Krygier, which Krygier launched into the net, putting the Spartans up by 3 goals.
Several minutes later, two major penalties on Western Ontario’s Kyle Langdon, prompted another standout power play for the green and white.
Following in his twin brother Cole’s footsteps, sophomore Christian Krygier made a power play goal at just over 11 minutes into the period.
“As twins they’ve (Cole and Christan) got a pretty good bond and they kind of know where each other is at and they work well for each other. Last year as true freshman we were a little hesitant to throw them together like that ... but I think that they're real comfortable with each other and that kind of levels things out,” coach Cole said regarding the twins' dynamic.
A minute later, senior Logan Lambdin made yet another power play goal for the Spartans giving them a dominant 6-1 lead to end the game.
“I learned that we are good offensively. We can still score goals and we always need a little bit more work defensively I think,” senior Patrick Khodorenko said. “Our power play was working around, we had a lot of chances both power plays.”