Michigan State snapped its three-game losing streak by grinding out a 2-0 win against Ferris State, with the lone goals coming from fifth-year forward Mitchell Lewandowski and sophomore defenseman Aiden Gallacher (on the empty net).
MSU's defenders guarded the blue line valiantly, limiting quality scoring chances and mucking up the Bulldogs' offensive zone possessions. Senior goaltender Drew DeRidder locked up the crease for the Spartans, stopping all 26 shots on goal and pitching his first shutout of the season.
The first seven minutes of the first period gave a good taste of what the rest of the game would look like — a gritty, defensive matchup, with both teams struggling to create scoring opportunities.
A holding call on senior defenseman Cole Krygier gave Ferris State its first power-play attempt of the game just over seven minutes in. Despite a good amount of time in the offensive zone, MSU's defense forced the Bulldogs to take some bad shots and came up with a huge penalty kill.
Michigan State finished the first period with a slight edge in shots (7-5), but neither team looked solidly in control.
Ferris State came out firing in the second, outshooting the Spartans and turning up the pressure. But again, even with increased shots and time of possession, FSU's forwards could not seem to solve Michigan State's defense — the shots that did get off were either blocked by a defenseman or gloved by DeRidder.
After an especially dangerous series in FSU territory, Michigan State committed their second penalty of the game. The penalty kill unit stood strong yet again, ensuring that the game remained scoreless.
Michigan State and Ferris State went into the third period with a 0-0 tie. MSU had a shot to open scoring with its only power play attempt of the game two minutes into the period. However, the team failed to generate any sort of rhythm in the offensive zone and the game remained 0-0.
It was Lewandowski that finally broke the stalemate. He took advantage of an open stretch of ice in the offensive zone, patiently moving into up the slot and finally ripping a one-timer to the back of the net. 1-0 Michigan State, with less than seven minutes left.
Ferris State turned up the pressure in the waning minutes of the period, desperate to knot up the game. The Bulldogs sent their goaltender to the bench, pulling out an extra forward to turn up the heat. But thanks to a few timely saves from DeRidder and a few blocks, the Spartans clung on to the lead, finally icing the game with an empty netter.
“Off the puck, we did a good job,” Michigan State hockey Head Coach Danton Cole said postgame. “Back-pressure, the D-zone, we closed out on some things. You ground it out. Drew played well, Lewie gets back in and scores a big goal — you take the win and move on."
Michigan State travels to Big Rapids this Saturday for the away portion of the series. The puck is set to drop at 7:00 p.m. at Ewigleben Sports Arena.
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