Coming off of a devastating loss at Munn Ice Arena with a final score of 7-1 to Michigan Wolverine rivals, the Spartans rallied back at Yost in a 7-5 win to split the weekend.
“Obviously it was a really good effort for our guys,” head coach Adam Nightingale said. “I think the way it went for us yesterday, you know, we talked to the group, and you have to do a better job being disciplined. Obviously we were playing a really good team and you have to find that line between respect and hate and all the rivalry.”
While the Spartans put up those seven goals, the action in the game was nothing short of exciting. Being down in the second period, the team put four unanswered goals on the board to gain a lead for the first time during the weekend, as well as putting two more in the net for the winning assurance.
“Just a reminder of what we talked about, it’s never about the score,” Nightingale said. “We want to keep getting better and get to our game. I think we have a good team and the key there is team. It’s not about one guy and we have to play team hockey, so just stay with it and don’t worry about the score, and you know it’s hard but you have to keep doing it the right way.”
With the teams being tied 1-1 through the first period, and then the Spartans going down 4-1 the last half hour of the game, the final period and a half for Michigan State was a team we've never seen before; the players came out together to skate out to their quick 5-4 lead before heading into the final period.
“I think we just started to play with a little more poise,” Nightingale said. “I thought we whacked it around and you have to want the puck. I know yesterday was a really hard day for us but you have to get confidence and I think we have a pretty good hockey team. You also have to believe in yourself. I thought the more we started to hang on to pucks, we had to play in the O-zone a little bit more and find a way.”
For younger players, the game meant a great deal to keep their lead in the conference and continue their steady march of leading the Big Ten Conference for the remainder of the season.
“I’m so proud of our guys, just the way yesterday went, and the first period today, just to keep battling and come back, that was huge for us," freshman forward Gavin O'Connell said. "Carrying that into the next weekend of just knowing we can always come back and if we keep our heads down and keep working then it’s always going to go in our favor.”
The Spartans had not won a game in Yost Ice Arena around their electric crowd since November of 2019. After finally snapping the eight game losing streak on the road in Ann Arbor, the team is preparing to do the same in February, but this time a sweep at Yost and at Little Caesars Arena for the Duel in the D series.
“We had a lot of good expectations, even yesterday,” fifth year forward Nicolas Müller said post-game. “But it didn't go our way, all the pucks and we just didn’t play our way so it feels even better to beat them here at Yost, so it’s a great feeling.”
With the win on their backs and a week until their next Big Ten matchup against the highly competitive Minnesota Golden Gophers, the Spartans knew what needed to be done to take home the victory for MSU and not look back.
“I think the biggest thing is to believe in our hockey, the Spartan way, and that’s what we did,” Müller said.
The Spartans are back at Munn Ice Arena for another home series against the Minnesota Golden Gophers for their final match up of the regular season. They will play on Friday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. where streaming is available on Big Ten Plus, as well as Saturday, Jan. 27 at 4 p.m. which will be streamed on Big Ten Network.
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