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Abundant penalties force Nightingale to bench Jagger Joshua versus Miami (OH)

November 30, 2022
<p>Spartans junior forward Jagger Joshua in their hockey game against the Miami Redhawks. Michigan State earned a win in the third period, 3-1, on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. </p>

Spartans junior forward Jagger Joshua in their hockey game against the Miami Redhawks. Michigan State earned a win in the third period, 3-1, on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021.

Photo by Chloe Trofatter | The State News

When Michigan State hockey suited up to play at Miami (Ohio) last Friday, one of its top scorers was not in the lineup.

Senior forward Jagger Joshua’s name appeared under the scratches, instead of sitting at the top of the line chart where he suddenly has found a home.

Head Coach Adam Nightingale said Tuesday the decision to remove Joshua from the lineup came after a troublesome string of penalties throughout the season. Additionally, Joshua was issued a 10-minute game misconduct penalty at the 18:33 mark of the first period during MSU’s second game versus Penn State the previous weekend.

The mysterious absence came just days after Joshua took to social media last Monday to speak out about being called racial slurs by an Ohio State player, who was later identified as forward Kamil Sadlocha.

“Super proud of Jagger, he obviously had a lot going on that week,” Nightingale said. “But before any of that, we've talked about being smart and playing with discipline.”

Joshua leads the nation with 53 penalty minutes. The next closest player is Rochester Institute of Technology’s Cody Laskosky with 45 minutes. 

“It got to the point where we needed to take away ice time, and at the end of the day, that hurts our team,” Nightingale said. “He was our leading scorer, but it's like I told Jagger, it's hard for me to stand up in front of the room and say we're gonna play with discipline, we’re gonna have accountability and there's consequences for your actions.”

Joshua’s absence from Friday’s game was apparent on the ice as MSU gave up three goals to Miami, though pulled away with a 5-3 victory. The Red Hawks kept it close throughout the first period, trailing the Spartans 3-1 at first intermission. Miami had a few late attempts to close the gap during the final two periods, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with MSU. 

When Joshua returned to the ice on Saturday, MSU appeared more put together. He and his linemates, freshmen forward Daniel Russell and Karsen Dorwart produced six combined points. Dorwart scored a natural hat trick, earning him a Big Ten Star for the second weekend in a row, while Russell recorded a goal and an assist.

The victory also marked graduate goaltender Dylan St. Cyr’s second shutout of the season and the 12th of his career. He was named the Big Ten's First Star.

Nightingale said Joshua “responded well” when he was placed back in the lineup for the second game in the series, during which he had the primary assist on Dorwart's third goal, one shot and one block. 

Despite being benched as a leader on the team, Nightingale said Joshua understood the coaches' decision. 

“(Joshua) said, ‘Coach, I appreciate you talking to me about it, and being honest with me about it,’” Nightingale said. “I think there was a couple incidents (against Miami) where, had we not sat him, he might have took a penalty. He still needs to play physical; that's a huge part of his game. He needs to bring that edge, but we also can't put the team in a position where you're killing off five-minute power plays.”

Before the Penn State series, Joshua led the team with five goals. He is now tied for second in goals with Russell. Dorwart is the only player to surpass their six respective goals, currently holding seven.

Joshua also leads the team with a .240 shot percentage and ranks fifth in overall points scored.

With No. 4 Minnesota in town this weekend, the key to MSU taking down a top five team will be keeping Joshua on the ice with the buzzing first line, while also keeping him out of the penalty box.

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