Friday, April 12, 2024

MSU hockey not enough for Ohio State's momentum, lose 6-2 in night one of series

February 24, 2024
MSU Senior forward Jeremy Davidson #11 prevents a goal try by Ohio State Freshman forward Max Montes #16 at Munn Ice Arena on Feb. 23, 2024.
MSU Senior forward Jeremy Davidson #11 prevents a goal try by Ohio State Freshman forward Max Montes #16 at Munn Ice Arena on Feb. 23, 2024. —

After a bye week for the Spartans, the men's hockey team was back at Munn Ice Arena for the final home series of the regular season to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes. OSU is currently ranked last in the Big Ten with just a lone three conference wins, but after a prior weekend sweep against the Wisconsin Badgers, the Buckeyes kept their hot streak alive and took a dominating 6-2 win over the Spartans.

The hunger from OSU quickly shone through to keep its hot streak alive as the team was chasing the game for the win to continue to put themselves on the map. The puck battles were won by the Buckeyes the majority of the time, as well as races to other sides of the ice. Michigan State's opponents played absolutely lights out and once MSU lost its groove in the first period, it was tough to come back.

“Obviously (Ohio State) was playing with a lot of confidence this weekend, and they had a really good weekend last weekend," head coach Adam Nightingale said. "We scored early, but it didn’t frazzle them and they stuck with it. There were times for sure we didn’t play the body and they were skating through us, and you’ve got to make it hard on teams and I didn’t think we did tonight.”

While the first 10 minutes of the game were heaving in the Spartans' favor, they quickly lost their spunk after the first goal of the game from freshman forward Gavin O'Connell. Things quickly turned for the worst after those first few minutes and the Spartans faced the unspoken pressure. O’Connell said post-game that it was a game where things quickly got away from them and resulted in a bad outcome.

“I think there’s certain things that make us special and I think we got away from that a little bit tonight,” O’Connell said. “I think the whole team was playing a little selfish (and) that’s just not our way. We play team hockey and I think all of us kind of got away from that. I think that’s what gave them momentum and ultimately gave them the win tonight.”

With confidence coming off of the week of practice for the team, there were very high expectations for the Spartans to clinch a win in hopes of a swept weekend, but the tables quickly turned in favor of the Buckeyes as the expectations quickly diminished.

“I thought we wanted it easy, and they did a good job keeping us to the outside and you’re not going to have much success when you play the perimeter," Nightingale said. "I thought that’s what we were offensively and obviously, they capitalized on the chances and made some really good play."

Michigan State has had to come back from a few tough losses on night one and has played dominant night two games in the past, so the hopes for their senior night against the Buckeyes still stand tall to split the weekend and go on to come back to gain three points on the weekend; the team is known for their continuous momentum and grit, as well as making sure to block out the noise.

“We talk about noise a lot and it’s really hard to tune it out, especially with the garbage on social media," Nightingale said. "So I think you just have to focus on things that have substance and social media is not one of them, and make sure we’re focused on things within our team and that’s a big test for our guys. They have responded and we’ve got an opportunity to (win) tomorrow."

The Spartans will take on the Buckeyes on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. at Munn Ice Arena. The game will also be streamed on Big Ten Plus. The Michigan State Spartans will look for a split of the series and continue their hunt for the No. 1 seed for the Big Ten tournament.

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