Down a couple of key players Friday night, the Michigan State hockey team (14-16-1) was shut out at home by No. 12 Ohio State (17-10-4), falling 1-0 at Munn Ice Arena.
Sophomore goaltender Drew DeRidder was making his first start in net since Nov. 2 in place of senior John Lethemon (out with an illness), and collected 33 saves in the losing effort. Senior Sam Saliba said after the game that eight to 12 players were under the weather, contributing to the team being a little sluggish.
“Tough battle out there,” coach Danton Cole said. “I thought it was two teams that played pretty hard, definitely a playoff feel to it ... I liked the way our guys battled. (DeRidder) had to jump in and he played a heck of a game for us.”
It was a relatively quiet first period, with the Spartans unable to get their first shot on goal until halfway through the opening 20 minutes. Senior forward Logan Lambdin was also out for the green and white due to illness, causing Cole to move junior Austin Kamer up to play the wing alongside freshmen Jagger Joshua and Josh Nodler.
Once they got rolling in the second half of the first, MSU was able to generate some quality scoring chances, most of which were combated with timely blocked shots by the Buckeyes. OSU outshot the Spartans 11-9 in the opening period, and the two teams were scoreless heading into the second.
2:24 into the second period, OSU defenseman Matt Miller broke the scoring open, capitalizing on a favorable bounce off the boards. Miller let a shot loose from the blue line that missed wide, causing the puck to subsequently head back towards DeRidder. Reaching out to halt it, the puck brushed DeRidder’s stick, going between his legs and right into the back of the net to put the Buckeyes up 1-0.
Michigan State got their first power play opportunity with 11:37 remaining in the second. The team struggled to get anything set up as Cole experimented with some new players on the man-advantage, including junior Jake Smith. The Spartans successfully killed off an OSU power play minutes after being unable to convert on their own, and the Buckeyes carried a one-goal lead into the third period.
The third period was more of the same, with MSU making one too many passes and unable to really challenge OSU goaltender Tommy Nappier. The fluke goal by the Buckeyes proved to be the difference maker, and they escaped game one of the weekend series with a 1-0 victory.
“I thought they did a good job,” Saliba said. “Came here and played a really good road game. Thought the first period was pretty even, for the most part. The second period they took it to us a little bit, had more chances and got more generated and more to the net.”
The same two teams will go at it again tomorrow night, which will be Senior Night for MSU. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.