Coming off of winter break and out of conference play, the Spartans were back in action against Penn State for their first Big Ten game of the regular season. The Spartans beat the Penn State Nittany Lions 5-0 and freshman netminder Trey Augustine grabbed his second shutout of the season and finished with 30 saves.
Augustine recently came back from a big win with a gold medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Juniors Tournament and brought home the Spartans great momentum. For Augustine, the turnaround from the tournament to college was nothing but easy for the young goaltender, as well as the warm welcome home from the team.
“It’s been great, obviously I missed the guys,” Augustine said in a post-game interview. “I was gone for a long time, so it’s been great to be back and we had a good game tonight.”
Continuously putting on great performances and having high-scoring games, Michigan State — and especially head coach Adam Nightingale — has credited a lot of their wins to Augustine and the way he can keep his composure to earn big wins.
“He is a calm guy and the moment never seems to eat him up,” Nightingale said post-game. “It’s a loud building here and I thought he did a heck of a job in there. He obviously played really good over in that (World Juniors) tournament and we expect him to do the same here.”
Augustine had his first career conference shutout in early November during Michigan State’s first Big Ten road game, where they beat Ohio State 6-0. The Spartans eventually swept Ohio State, the weekend that Augustine showed his true potential. For Augustine, he also gave credit to the whole team and how they’ve been able to play this season, especially today.
“It’s pretty special to get a shutout in Big Ten play,” Augustine said. “But obviously the guys did a great job of finding me and keeping it pretty easy.”
With endless amounts of practice and hard work from the team, their main goal has been to play a full 60 minutes. With two goals in the first period, including a shorthanded goal from graduate forward Reed Lebster, two goals in the second period and a final in the third period to polish off the win, the Spartans seem to be in their groove at last.
“I thought we were really sharp in the first and I liked our start,” Nightingale said. “I thought there was a section before where we got a little loose and Trey (Augustine) did a great job of bailing us out, and I thought we got back to our game as the game went on.”
Along with Augustine’s shutout, sophomore forward Joey Larson had yet another stellar game performance as he notched his 12th and 13th goal of the season to put the Spartans ahead early on.
Augustine — who knows that sweeping a team is a great challenge — realized that the team must keep a level head and rest up to be able to finish the challenge and step back into first place in the conference.
“It starts now,” Nightingale said “We start to recover and get some good rest and watch some videos. We have to find ways we can get better and then we get back at it.”
The Spartans are playing the Nittany Lions on Saturday, Jan. 13 and look to close out the series with their second away sweep of the season. The game begins at 4:30 p.m. and will be streamed on Big Ten Network.
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