The No. 20 Michigan State hockey team (6-7-1) was unable to pick up a win this weekend against No. 11 Ohio State (9-4-1), falling 3-1 to the Buckeyes on Saturday and 2-0 on Sunday at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Junior forward Mitchell Lewandowski scored the lone goal for the Spartans on the weekend, collecting his third tally of the season late in the third period of Saturday’s game to cut Ohio State’s lead to 2-1. Senior goaltender John Lethemon started both games, picking up 18 saves on 20 shots in Game 1 and 36 saves on 37 shots in Game 2.
Scoreless after one period of play in Saturday’s 3-1 loss, Gustaf Westlund would get the scarlet and gray on the board 8:50 into the second. Ronnie Hein doubled the Buckeye lead early in the third, and Lewandowski cut the deficit in half with just under five minutes remaining in the game. With Lethemon on the bench and the extra attacker on the ice, Ohio State would seal the deal with an empty-net goal, making it 3-1 and putting an end to the green and white’s four game unbeaten streak.
Michigan State committed five penalties in the game and outshot OSU 27-21, including 12-6 in the third, but couldn’t get anything going against freshman goaltender Ryan Snowden, who was making his first start of the season.
“It was a good, hard-fought game,” Head Coach Danton Cole said. “They were able to get a couple in from shots off the rush that gave them a little bit of a lead. But I thought our guys kept pushing and did a lot of good things throughout the game. There are some things we can do better, but I thought we battled and were able to get it to 2-1 with the goalie pulled and that's the way it goes sometimes.”
In Sunday’s 2-0 loss, Tanner Laczynski buried the deciding goal 13:14 into the first period, and the Buckeyes never looked back. An empty-net goal from Gordi Myer late in the third put things out of reach for the Spartans, sending the team back to East Lansing without a win after playing in their first games as a ranked team since 2012.
Most of the game was played on special teams, as both teams accumulated six penalties. Neither team was able to convert on the power play. OSU outshot MSU 38-23, and the Spartans only had 11 shots on goal after two periods of play.
“We found some life and it was only 1-0 and we hadn't played really well,” Cole said. “I thought we worked extremely hard, just not real smart and we just couldn't find our legs as a collective group. Then in the third the guys did find it and I give them credit for that, and they battled.”
The Spartans will look to bounce back next weekend when they host No. 19 Wisconsin for a weekend series at Munn Ice Arena. Game 1 is set for at 7 p.m. on Dec. 6.