In the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament, the No. 6 seeded Michigan State hockey team (15-18-2) fell to the No. 3 seeded Michigan Wolverines (17-14-4) 3-0 Friday night in Ann Arbor.
Senior goaltender John Lethemon stopped 17 of 20 shots on a night when the Spartan offense was nowhere to be found. With the loss, MSU will have to win the next game against Michigan in order to advance to the next round.
The crowd at Yost Ice Arena was more scarce than usual, since many students weren’t on campus during spring break. However, that didn’t halt the Wolverines from getting out to a fast start as play opened up.
U-M forward Jake Slaker got the scoring started 9:54 into the first period, putting home his 13th goal of the season. The maize and blue were in the early stages of a five-on-three man advantage when Slaker’s linemate, Will Lockwood, had the puck in the corner of the offensive zone. Slaker was camped out by the right side of the net and received a pass from Lockwood that went right underneath senior defenseman Jerad Rosburg.
Slaker buried the one-timer to put the Wolverines up 1-0, and the score remained that way heading into the second period. MSU was outshot 9-4 and couldn’t convert on their lone power play opportunity after 20 minutes of play.
Just under three minutes into the second period, Michigan doubled their lead. U-M forward Johnny Beecher cleanly won a faceoff in his team’s offensive zone, and the puck quickly found its way to U-M defenseman Jacob Hayhurst on the blue line. Hayhurst threw the puck on net towards a crashing Beecher, who redirected the puck past Lethemon to put Michigan up 2-0.
With 10.1 seconds remaining in the second, freshman forward Jagger Joshua was called for a hooking penalty. The call resulted in a faceoff on the opposite end of the ice, inside Michigan’s offensive zone. The puck squirted out to U-M winger Nick Pastujov on the draw, who immediately fired a shot on net.
The initial shot was blocked by Lethemon, but the rebound popped right back out to Pastujov, who put home his own rebound to increase the Wolverine’s lead to 3-0 heading into the third period.
The Spartans battled in the third period and ended up outshooting the Wolverines 25-20, but ultimately couldn’t find the back of the net. U-M killed off all five of MSU’s power plays and blocked 15 shots en route to a three-goal victory.
The same two teams will go at it again tomorrow night in a do-or-die game for the Spartans. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.