Michigan State hockey was all too familiar with the penalty box during its 6-0 shutout loss to No. 12 Ohio State on Saturday, serving eight penalties for a total of 16 minutes.
Seven Spartans recorded one penalty, while junior forward Jeremy Davidson recorded two. Senior forward Erik Middendorf notched MSU’s first infraction, a minor for tripping. Sophomore defenseman David Gucciardi received the only hooking penalty of the night.
Four players picked up minor infractions for cross checking, including Davidson, freshman forward Karsen Dorwart, graduate defenseman Michael Underwood and senior forward Jagger Joshua.
It was the first time Joshua was sent to the penalty box since MSU’s game against Penn State on Nov. 19, during which he racked up 17 minutes, including a game misconduct infraction. The following week, Head Coach Adam Nightingale made the decision to bench Joshua for the first game of the team’s series with Miami (OH) Thanksgiving weekend.
Sophomore forward Jesse Tucker was also called for roughing alongside OSU’s Tyler Duke.
Ohio State, on the other hand, was whistled just three times over the course of the game.
After giving up one power-play goal on two chances Friday, and six in the last four games, MSU improved its penalty kill efforts during the rematch, allowing OSU to net one on seven opportunities.
Back in November, MSU swept OSU on its home ice in East Lansing. The Buckeyes (14-7-1, 7-5 Big Ten) gave the Spartans (12-11-1, 6-7-1 Big Ten) a taste of their own medicine the second time around. Both teams will not meet again in the regular season, sharing a 2-2 series record on the year.
With the sweep, OSU extends its winning streak to five, while MSU now extends its losing streak to five. This loss was the biggest shutout the Spartans have suffered thus far. The Buckeyes now sit one point above MSU in conference standings with 21.
“I thought that was our toughest weekend of the season so far,” Head Coach Adam Nightingale said. “I thought the second half of the game we did a good job of sticking together and when things go sideways, it's easy to point fingers and the reality is we need to get better. I need to do a better job coaching it and we got to keep helping guys get better. So we got a lot of room for growth, but I've liked that about our group because they believe in that and we're gonna keep getting better.”
Despite the fact the team has not won a game in almost a month, Nightingale remains optimistic and said the team is not done learning yet this season.
“I'm a big believer in humility and if you don't remain humble, the game will humble you pretty quick,” Nightingale said. “We got to get back to work. Credit to Ohio State, they're a really good team. The reality is we need to get better to get to where we want to get to and we got an opportunity everyday to do it.”
As MSU heads home to Munn Ice Arena for the first time since Dec. 9, its schedule won’t get any lighter with No. 5 Penn State coming to town. However, the Spartans sole focus remains on themselves, as it has all season.
“We’re worried about ourselves right now,” Nightingale said. “We gotta get back to playing to our identity and it’ll start on Monday.”
Puck drop for the second series between the Spartans and the Nittany Lions is at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
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