With the Ferris State series out of the way, Michigan State is officially a third of the way through the season. The Spartans entered the two games with a sub .500 winning percentage and a three game losing streak. They exited with a series sweep and currently hold a 6-5-1 record.
In the two victories against the Bulldogs, the Spartans illustrated a resiliency that fans had only seen glimpses of all year. Saturday night’s 4-3 win was especially impressive.
Throughout the season, scoring has been a struggle for Michigan State. The Spartans average 2.25 goals per game , which is ranked 45th in the NCAA.
So when Ferris State jumped to a 3-0 lead in the second period, the deficit seemed nearly insurmountable. Michigan State, a team that relies on stellar goaltending and excellent team defense, would have to tally at least three goals in a period and a half just to tie up the game.
They scored four.
The Spartans four-goal rally in Big Rapids was not just about adding another W to the win column, it proved that this team had the ability to overcome adversity.
Michigan State faced a similar situation in its previous series with a different outcome. In the team’s second game against Michigan, an early 3-0 lead by the Wolverines tested the resiliency of the squad. Through the next two periods, the Spartans battled back to get the game within a goal, but they were unable to complete the rally.
"That’s how you wanna feel leaving a game if you’re on the wrong side of it," Michigan State Hockey Head Coach Danton Cole said after the loss. "Hey, we didn’t lose, we just ran out of time."
Against the Bulldogs, the Spartans managed to complete what they could not against the Wolverines.
"We knew even after that game (Against Michigan) that we had what it takes to come back from games and play a whole sixty minutes - and that’s what we did tonight. Completing that comeback is huge for us,” junior forward Josh Nodler said after the win.
The deficit was not the only aspect of the game Michigan State had to overcome. Throughout the season, the special teams battle has been key in every series the Spartans have fought in. In a bevy of closely contested matchups, it seemed that the team that could win the special teams battle would walk away with the victory.
Against Ferris on Saturday night, MSU’s special teams were falling apart. FSU scored on half of its power play attempts and even managed to nab a shorthanded goal. Michigan State converted on just one of its five power play attempts, which seemed to be the nail in the coffin as the time ticked away in the final period.
But the team did not seem concerned with the miscues on the power play and the penalty kill, as the final three goals scored all came on five-on-five in the final ten minutes of the third period.
There is still plenty of hockey to be played, and with non-conference play behind them, Michigan State is entering the teeth of its schedule. In a league as talented, competitive and physical as the Big Ten, adversity is going to be around every corner for the Spartans, especially in the next few weeks.
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