Michigan State hockey headed home after an away series split against Air Force, looking to take on the Canisius Golden Griffins. The Spartans were able to hold off their opponents for a 6-3 win the first night of the series.
The puck dropped at 7 p.m. at Munn Ice Arena, and the team was quick to keep the puck in their offensive zone, after the first face off win of the game came from junior forward Red Savage.
After a penalty called on Canisius for slashing in the first period, the Spartans were off to a fast start on the power play, which sophomore forward Daniel Russell took as the opportunity to put the Spartans on the board less than five minutes into the game. Russell's goal was assisted by sophomore forward Karsen Dorwart and sophomore defenseman Matt Basgall.
Soon after, sophomore forward Isaac Howard broke free and was quick to take off down the ice and score, but the goal was ultimately waved offsides.
Twelve minutes in, the Spartans were faced with a penalty kill. The team was not only able to hold off their opponents, but they even had the chance to generate a solid scoring opportunity ultimately saved by the Golden Griffins' goalie.
Towards the end of the first, sophomore forward Joey Larson found the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season. Larson's goal put the Spartans up 2-0 heading into the first intermission. He was assisted by Savage and freshman forward Gavin O'Connell.
A Spartan penalty late in the first period meant that the Spartans were starting the second with a minute left on the penalty kill. The Spartans were able to effectively clear the puck down the ice until they gained their full strength back, showing yet again the strength of the MSU penalty kill unit.
Almost immediately after the end of the penalty, Russell came in to net his second goal of the night, making the game 3-0 less than two minutes into the second period. Senior defenseman Nash Nienhuis and Howard had the assists on the second Russell goal.
Three minutes after Russell’s goal, the freshman defenseman Maxim Štrbák fired one at the Canisius net to log his first goal as a Spartan to make the game 4-0.
Right after the goal, the Spartans took another penalty resulting in a Canisius goal on its power play making the score 4-1, but the Spartans still continued their fight.
MSU had a quick retaliation after the first Canisius goal, when Russell capitalized on his third goal of the night, earning a hat trick at the halfway point of the second. The assists came from Basgall and Howard, making the game 5-1.
The heat did pick up with eight minutes left in the second, after a scrum in the Spartans defensive zone. The altercation resulted in a cross checking penalty call on freshman defenseman Austin Oravetz, but, yet again, the Spartans killed the penalty with ease.
After the penalty kill from green and white, a major penalty was called on Canisius for contact to the head on Michigan State’s Howard. After 12 shots on goal came from the Spartans in their offensive zone, the Golden Griffins went off on a breakaway, but an outstanding save from freshman goalie, Trey Augustine kept the game 5-1.
The final period picked up where the team left off, with two minutes left of a power play from the major Canisius penalty. For the remainder of the man advantage, the Spartans were able to keep the puck in their offensive zone, even though the sixth goal did not come.
Tempers flared quickly in the final period, and with aggression coming in quickly, Canisius landed one in the back of the net, making the score 5-2 with 15 minutes to go.
With the heat from both teams, Canisius landed themselves two power plays after the other after a slash call on senior forward Jeremy Davidson, as well as sophomore forward Tiernan Shoudy, for some five on three hockey. But yet again, the Spartans penalty kill unit was as strong as ever, killing both with ease.
Though the Spartans had much time in their offensive zone, Canisius sent one home again to make the score 5-3 with less than eight to go in the final period.
That third Canisius goal did not stop the Spartans, after the opponents pulled the goalie and freshman defenseman Artyom Levshunov sent one straight to the back of the empty net, making the score 6-3.
The final score of the game, after a number of Spartans landed on the goal sheet was 6-3, after an astonishing game from both ends of the ice.
The Spartans will be back in action at 7 p.m. at Munn Ice Arena on Friday where they look to take their second home sweep of the season.
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