After a 12-23-1 season, a new head coach with a restructured roster and a newly renovated ice arena, Michigan State opened the 2022-23 season with a 3-1 defeat to Bowling Green.
MSU's new style of play was noticeable with an offensive-minded approach. The Spartans recorded 39 shots on goal to Bowling Green's 29, a difference that would have been a rarity in previous seasons.
The first period had a sluggish start with neither team finding the back of the net.
Graduate transfer goaltender Dylan St. Cyr started in net for the Spartans.
The defensive line started off strong in spite of the loss of sophomore David Gucciardi, who was out with an illness, and graduate student Christian Krygier, who was serving a one-game suspension from last season. St. Cyr totaled seven saves in the period.
On the other side of the ice, BGSU senior goaltender Zack Rose also had a strong start in net, making 10 saves in the period.
Freshman Karsen Dorwart fourth-line forward played an impressive period alongside fellow linemen senior forward Jagger Joshua and freshman forward Daniel Russell.
Russell also shared a line with Dorwart last season on the Sioux Falls Stampede in the USHL.
“I think we play really well with each other and having that time playing together really helps,” Russell said.
It's unknown what the message from BGSU Head Coach Ty Eigner following the first period was, but it got the job done.
MSU’s defensive efforts fell short as the Falcons put the first goal on the board a little over a minute into the period. Senior forward Alex Barber ripped the puck to the back of the net with an assist from sophomore forward Austen Swankler.
Swankler was a player to look out for heading into Friday's game after contributing two goals to BGSU’s 3-2 loss on Sunday.
It wasn’t until the third period when it finally clicked for MSU. Russell whipped it into the net 20 seconds into the period, assisted by Joshua and junior defender Nash Nienhuis.
“I made a play across to Nash and he made a good kickout to Jagger who made a really good seam pass to me in the middle,” Russell said. “I didn’t even look at the net I just shot it and it went in.”
MSU’s freshmen have become a powerful force to the team early on in the season.
“It’s exciting,” Head Coach Adam Nightingale said. “Anytime you’ve got young guys come in and making an impact, in college hockey that’s not easy to do. Russell is an acquired worker who can really skate and understands the game. Karsen’s had a really good start to the season and (Tiernan) Shoudy had another good game today and (Matt) Basgall’s played well. For all those guys they learn a lot of valuable lessons that will help them in the future.”
After easing up, the Falcons swept in and scored their second goal by BGSU sophomore forward Ryan O'Hara to regain the lead.
“As goaltender especially I want to have that save and make a timely save when that momentum’s going our way,” St. Cyr said. “At the same time, you have to go to that next goal mindset and put that behind you ... we’re here to win, that’s the mindset we’re trying to build and if we do give one up I don’t think it’s something that needs to get pushed down on us but more to look forward and fuel us for the next one.”
MSU returned hungry for the equalizer. When the scoreboard looked like it was at a stand still, O’Hara returned to gain his second goal of the night on a Spartan empty net. Less than two minutes remained, causing MSU to become lazy and fall back.
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Despite a strong defensive attempt to start off the game, Michigan State failed to shut down its opponent and take back the lead in tonight’s season opener.
It’s going to be difficult for MSU to even out the home-and-home series tomorrow when the two teams head to Bowling Green Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“The whole philosophy here is we’re gonna get better every day," Nightingale said. "We’re watching the video tomorrow, studying the game, improving individually and as a team. Hopefully, that’s reflected in the game.”
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