Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Final: MSU hockey scores three in third period to take a 3-2 win against Minnesota Golden Gophers

January 26, 2024
<p>Michigan State forwards No. 18 Joey Larson and No. 29 Gavin O'Connell skate behind the net at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing, Michigan on Jan. 26, 2024. Michigan State secured a huge win to take a commanding lead of first in the Big Ten.</p>

Michigan State forwards No. 18 Joey Larson and No. 29 Gavin O'Connell skate behind the net at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing, Michigan on Jan. 26, 2024. Michigan State secured a huge win to take a commanding lead of first in the Big Ten.

Photo by Brendan Mullin | The State News

After a week of practice to clean up their game after a split weekend with Michigan, the Spartans were back in Munn Ice Arena as they set up to host the Minnesota Golden Gophers, knowing well the toughness their opponents would bring onto the Spartans' home ice. The Spartans had three goals in the third period, after trailing most of the game, to come back for a 3-2 win against the Gophers.

The Spartans came out quick, were hot on the ice and broke up passes quickly, but off of a clean shot just a minute and a half into the first period, the Gophers landed on the board, putting them up early. But, the Spartans knew what needed to be done to learn from the early goal and fight back through the rest of the game.

Just two minutes after the first goal, the Spartans went on a power play after a cross-checking call was made on the Gophers, and while the shot attempts were there, the team was not able to capitalize on the man advantage, as the Gophers stayed ahead 1-0. A great shot attempt was made by freshman defenseman Artyom Levshunov, but the puck bounced off the goal post and back out onto the ice to keep a 1-0 score.

Yet again, two minutes later, the roles were reversed as the Golden Gophers headed to a power play after a tripping call made on junior forward Red Savage, and while the Spartans struggled on their penalty kill in their previous series, they started the game strong with their first kill. 

Aside from the two penalties called during the first 10 minutes of the game, the Spartans and Gophers played an extremely clean first period as both goalies were on top of their toes. The Spartans knew what needed to happen for the second period to go their way and to get a goal on the board, including taking more shots as the Spartans trailed by just two shots on goal throughout the first period (10-12).

The Spartans skated into the second period ready to put themselves on the board and were making better connections between each other for great passes, as well as great saves from freshman goalie Trey Augustine after his one goal let in during the first 90 seconds of play. Through the first six minutes of the middle frame, the Spartans limited the Golden Gophers to zero shots on goal, had a great defensive effort and played very well in their offensive zone as they continued to try their hardest to put a puck in the net.

While Michigan State had some great shot attempts, the team struggled to connect on its passes and put a goal into the back of the net. Augustine continued to block the shots he needed to so the Gophers would only stay up by the lone goal.

With just four minutes left in the second period, the Spartans found their game a little bit more and had a couple great shot attempts yet again. However, those hopeful shots were no match for Minnesota goalie Justen Close as he continued his shutout. 

With a minute and 18 seconds to go in the second period, the Gophers yet again put a goal on the board as Minnesota's Oliver Moore dangled through a couple Spartan defenders to put the puck straight to the back of the net and put them up 2-0.

Starting on the penalty kill, the Spartans were sure to kill off the Gophers man advantage, which was done so successfully, and they continued their hunt for a late rally and a goal on the board. 

And the late rally did start as freshman forward Griffin Jurecki finally lit the lamp for the team to score his first goal of the season, and his first goal as a Spartan, to finally cease the shutout.

As well as finally grabbing a goal, Michigan State quickly evened the playing field with shots on goal as it reached 23 shots on goal to tie the Gophers in shots on goal. With just a couple of minutes left in the third period, both teams were fighting for a goal.

With just 14 seconds past the halfway point, the Spartans headed to the penalty kill again after a kneeing call was made on senior forward Jeremy Davidson, and with a crucial penalty needing to be killed, and with a great short handed attempt, Michigan State was able to kill the penalty. 

Shortly after the end of the kneeing penalty, Michigan State was off to another kill after a hooking call was made on sophomore forward Daniel Russell. With the electricity and anxiousness of the Munn crowd, sophomore forward Karsen Dorwart rebounded a puck to the back of the net for a short-handed goal to tie the game at 2-2, just a second left in the penalty kill. 

And with just four seconds to go in regulation, Russell put the Spartans ahead with a score of 3-2 for a hard earned win against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, leaving the Munn crowd ecstatic. 

The Spartans are back at home on Jan. 27 at 4 p.m. for their final game of the series where the team looks to take a sweep against the visiting Golden Gophers. The game will be streamed on Big Ten Network.

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