Sunday, December 5, 2021

'It hurts': Breaking down the wild ending between the Spartans and Sun Devils

February 15, 2021
<p>Michigan State University hockey player Jagger Joshua (23) attempts to score against the Arizona Sun Devils on Feb. 14, 2021 at Munn Ice Arena.</p>

Michigan State University hockey player Jagger Joshua (23) attempts to score against the Arizona Sun Devils on Feb. 14, 2021 at Munn Ice Arena.

Photo by Jillian Felton | The State News

The last few minutes of Michigan State’s 3-2 loss against Arizona State were quite eventful and wild. It is not every day that you see a hockey game end,and then have a goal added to the score to extend the game.

But that is what happened Sunday at Munn Ice Arena.

Let’s start at the beginning of the third period.

With the game tied at 1-1, Arizona State was in the midst of a five-minute power play for a major penalty committed by Michigan State defensemen Christian Krygier at the end of the second period.

The Spartans did a phenomenal job killing the penalty, giving them a chance to potentially take some momentum to score the go-ahead goal. Instead, it was ASU’s forward Chris Grando who scored the go-ahead goal – redirecting a pass from senior forward Johnny Walker from the corner at 14:34 of the third.

Fast forward to the last few minutes of the game with the score now 2-1 in favor of the Sun Devils.

MSU caught a break with 1:37 to go in the game when Arizona State sophomore defenseman Tanner Hickey committed a cross-checking penalty. But at the same time, was that really a break for Michigan State, who went into the game 3-of-48 (.062) on the power play?

:30 into the power play with Michigan State goaltender Drew DeRidder still in the net, senior forward Mitchell Lewandowski unleashed a screaming one-time shot toward ASU starting goaltender Cole Brady. The Spartan bench stood up and yelled in excitement; they thought their assistant captain just scored the tying goal.

One of the officials that were standing right there though quickly waived off the goal and the play continued.

About 60 seconds later the final horn sounded and the players and coaches on MSU's bench stood there in amazement. How did they only score one goal after 38 shots on goal, many of those grade-A chances? How was Lewandowski’s shot not a goal?

“I had no idea,” Lewandowski said on whether he initially thought his shot went into the net. “When the game ended I obviously wanted it reviewed like everyone else just to kind of give us a chance. I had no idea. I just thought it hit the post to be honest with you.”

It was assistant coach Joe Exter who strongly believed Lewandowski indeed scored the game-tying goal. So, he called up to Director of Hockey Operations Dan Sturges who was upstairs with a camera taping the game.

Sturges was “adamant” that Lewandowski had a good goal resulting in Exter asking the referees to take a look at it.

The referees agreed. And after looking at it for a short period of time they deemed it a good goal. MSU was given some Valentine’s Day love from the hockey gods and awarded a second-chance to win the game. 1:04 was added back to the clock and what looked like a game in its finality was all of a sudden an entirely new game.

Still trying to comprehend exactly what just happened, Arizona State wasted no time getting back to business after having what they thought was a win stripped from them.

About 30 seconds later, Arizona State sophomore defenseman Jacob Semik, a Canton, Michigan native who had zero goals on the season, played hero for the Sun Devils as he snuck a soft shot just past DeRidder’s right pad.

Despite all that just happened, Michigan State was now back to where they were when ASU's Hockey took the cross-checking penalty – only with less time.

With 40 seconds left, a one-goal deficit, and DeRidder on the bench, the Spartans threatened.

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Lewandowski hit the post hoping to have another miraculous goal but they could not tie the game. The loss was a heartbreaker for the Spartans who felt they played well enough to come out with a victory.

“It definitely stinks, especially being out on the ice,” graduate student Charlie Combs said after being on the ice for the Sun Devils’ game-winner. “It sucks. There is no other way to put it."

"It hurts."

Even for MSU head coach Danton Cole, who played seven seasons in the NHL, the events of the end of the third period in Sunday’s game were something he has never experienced before.

“That in terms of reviewing a goal and then adding time back on the clock and then the other team gets one, that is a first for me,” Cole admitted after the game.

It is a quick turnaround now for Michigan State, who will have to forget the events of Sunday and play ASU again Monday evening. Lewandowski, who is tied with senior defenseman Tommy Miller for the most games played on the team, believes that not much needs to be changed going into game two.

“They didn't hand it to us tonight," Lewandowski said. "I thought we did more than enough to win that game. Stay on it. Don't change much. We did obviously better in the defensive zone. Try and stay out of the penalty box. Overall I thought we played a good solid game tonight, just bring that same intensity tomorrow.”

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