The Michigan State hockey team used an all-around solid performance to earn a 2-0 victory on Sunday against Ohio State in East Lansing.
Led by goalie Drew DeRidder, who had his second shutout of the season – the Spartans were able to get a win after losing three straight games.
Head coach Danton Cole decided to shake up the lineups Sunday, giving sophomore Jagger Joshua, sophomore Nicolas Müller and senior Mitchell Lewandowski first-line duties.
After getting mightily outplayed for the last 30 minutes of Game 1, the green and white came out with lots of energy and aggression. On the first shift of the game, Joshua came out hitting hard with two crunching hits. The MSU bench approved, and they played the rest of the period with the same passion.
"He set the tone right away," Cole said. "He's a physical kid and he's not a dirty player. He finishes his checks and he's very powerful. It is something that there's not a lot of in hockey anymore. It's just the way the game is played. ... I don't know why they don't like him. I love the kid."
Halfway through the first period, Michigan State broke the scoring when senior Brody Stevens laid off a nice drop pass for senior Gianluca Esteves as they entered the zone and found a streaking senior Tommy Apap who beat Ohio State starting goaltender Tommy Nappier glove side.
The goal was Apap’s third of the year and 15th in his career, while Esteves and Stevens got their first assists of the season.
Second-period penalties, second-period goal was the difference
The second period was riddled with penalties by both teams, as each would get two separate chances with a man advantage.
For Ohio State, they had multiple solid chances to break DeRidder. But, a few blocked shots and a helmet save by DeRidder off a heating slap shot kept the game at 1-0 going into the final period.
Needing an ever-so-important two-goal lead, the Spartans turned to two of their players who had not contributed much offensively all season long: Stevens and freshman defenseman Aiden Gallacher.
With eight and a half minutes remaining in the game, Gallacher fired a shot from the point. Nappier made the save with his right pad, but let up a juicy rebound that went right to Stevens who cleaned it up for Gallacher's first point as a Spartan.
For the remainder of the game, OSU did all they could to get on the board, but could not get anything going. They pulled Nappier from the net with about three minutes remaining and even got a 6-on-4 power play for the last 1:02, but MSU held on for the 2-0 victory.
DeRidder was fantastic in net for the Spartans. After giving up five goals Saturday to the Buckeyes, DeRidder recorded a 28 save shutout.
"It's awesome having a guy like that back there," Stevens said after the game. "There's so many times where everybody on the bench is holding their breath and it's just such a confidence boost having a guy like that back there."
One of the key factors in MSU shutting down a comeback attempt by the Buckeyes was in the faceoff circle. Down the stretch, the Spartans continually won faceoffs which allowed them to either hold possession of the puck or clear it from the defensive zone to waste time.
"Those are huge," DeRidder said. "If you can get the puck back with the (defense) or somebody and just get it out of the zone, that kills 20 seconds at least off the clock and it definitely helps us out."
That also helped the Spartans penalty kill, killing all five of Ohio State's power plays in a decisive 35-18 faceoff advantage for Michigan State.
Additionally, Brody Stevens played perhaps the best game of his senior season picking up an assist on Apap's goal and a goal in the third period to make things a little more comfortable for DeRidder in net.
"He's one of those blood and guts guys," Cole said. "He blocks shots and he does everything that maybe does not show up in the glamorous ways. ... What a huge goal at the end. That's a different game the last five minutes with the goalie pulled if he does not pop that one in."
However, Michigan State's power-play looms continued Sunday. With no power play chances in Game 1, MSU was gifted with four power play chances. The power play unit looked better moving the puck well, but could not get a power-play goal, making them now 3-43 on the season.
Michigan State (6-8-2) will have an opportunity to string some wins together next weekend as they travel to Wisconsin for a game on Friday night and a game Saturday afternoon.
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