Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Michigan State hockey swept in Big Ten quarterfinals as season comes to a disappointing end

March 7, 2020
<p>Spartan hockey players celebrate a goal from sophomore defenseman Dennis Cesena.</p>

Spartan hockey players celebrate a goal from sophomore defenseman Dennis Cesena.

Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

The rollercoaster that was the Michigan State hockey season came to a close Saturday night, as the Spartans (15-19-2) fell to Michigan (18-14-4) 3-0 for the second straight night at Yost Ice Arena.

Michigan swept the quarterfinal series 2-0, not allowing a Michigan State goal across the two games. The Spartans were outshot 26-20 and finished the 2019-20 campaign with a 2-4 record against the Wolverines despite sweeping them earlier in the season.

The first period was a grudge match, with the Wolverines outshooting MSU 7-6. The Spartan’s struggles on the power play Friday night carried over into Saturday, going 0-2 on the man advantage in the first 20 minutes. U-M also failed to convert on their lone power play opportunity and the game remained scoreless heading into the second.

4:45 into the second, senior forward Patrick Khodorenko was called for a tripping penalty and the Wolverines went back to the power play. Just under 40 seconds later, U-M winger Will Lockwood blasted a one-timer from the top of the point to put Michigan on top, 1-0.

U-M forward Johnny Beecher scored a highlight-reel goal with time winding down in the second period to double his team’s lead. Picking the puck up on the goal line of his defensive zone, Beecher maneuvered his way into the offensive zone and came in alone on senior goaltender John Lethemon.

Beecher lost the puck for a split second, but regathered himself and came back up around the right circle. Once he got to the top of the circle, Beecher fired a wrist shot past Lethemon to put the Spartans on the brink of elimination.

U-M forward Jake Slaker added on a late empty-net goal in the third period, ending the Spartans’ season and advancing the Wolverines to the semifinal of the Big Ten tournament.

Next up, the offseason. Coach Danton Cole will now look to revamp his team as the program gets ready to play at a new and improved Munn Ice Arena.

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