Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Power play advantages aid to MSU hockey's 5-2 win over Ohio State

February 25, 2024
The Spartan players celebrate a 5-2 win against Ohio State University at Munn Ice Arena on Feb. 24, 2024.
The Spartan players celebrate a 5-2 win against Ohio State University at Munn Ice Arena on Feb. 24, 2024. —
Photo by Donté Smith | The State News

Night one of the Michigan State and Ohio State series brought a tough loss, as the hungry Buckeyes fought for the win more than the Spartans. But, the roles quickly flipped on night two as MSU came in hot for an incredible 5-2 win and a position to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten with a big upcoming weekend.

With a non-stop performance on the ice from night two, a huge stand out from the game was the Spartan power play, as two of the five goals were secured for the team during the man advantage. The two astounding goals came during the second period after a five-minute major was called for boarding and the Spartans quickly capitalized on two goals to help solidify the win.

“That (power play opportunity) was huge," fifth-year forward Nicolas Müller said. "I mean with the five-minute major, you always want to execute, and we got two out of it, so it was great that the power play executed and we got up three or four to one, so it was a major shift in the game."

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Freshman defenseman Maxim Štrbák (8) fighting for the puck during a game against Ohio State University at Munn Ice Arena on Feb. 24, 2024.

The Spartans had visibly struggled on the power play on night one, as there was not a single goal scored on the man advantage, but the team has had a strong ability to rebound no matter how far down they are, there is always a comeback, as well as tuning out the ongoing noise no matter where the team is at.

“I think you’ve got to tune out the noise, and there’s noise when you’re good and noise when you’re bad, and you just have to stay focused on the things that have substance, and I think our guys have done a really good job of that,” head coach Adam Nightingale said. "Young hockey players (understand) that you’re not perfect, we’re not perfect as coaches, and our job is to help you, and if we can find something to help you, now you have to go out and execute, and the group's done a good job of that.”

Along with the bounceback and massive domination, the Michigan State hockey fans experienced excitement in the last 40 seconds, as a nod was sent to senior goaltender Jon Mor, who went in on the team's senior night to finish out the game for the team; he was able to finish out on an extremely special moment for all of the seniors. 

“His teammates respect him, and he’s done a great job," Nightingale said. "It’s tough being the third goalie, but he earned that opportunity to go in."

Nightingale also gave props to freshman goaltender Trey Augustine for his willingness to support Mor in his journey through Michigan State, as well as the respect that is held for him.

“I was going to tell (Mor), 'You’re in,' and Trey (Augustine) was already at the bench,” Nightingale said. “I think that speaks for Trey. It’s not about him, he doesn’t have to stay in there, and some high-end kids don’t ever want to come off the ice, but Trey was at the bench.”

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Senior goalie Jon Mor (30) looking focused during a game against Ohio State University at Munn Ice Arena on Feb. 24, 2024.

During the post-game press conference, Nightingale went on to talk about the lingering effects the senior class will leave on the program, and though it may be the last home series of the regular season, the Spartans still are looking to play much more hockey than is expected.

“That’s the goal is you want to keep playing, and our staff loves this group of guys,” Nightingale said. “It’s one of those groups where you don't want it to end. I think for our guys to understand too that we’ve done an unbelievable job of responding and bouncing back. But we’re getting to the point where you don’t get that opportunity and we’ve got to make sure we play our best down the stretch here.”

With a total of 49 points on the season, the Spartans continue to sit on top of the Big Ten, just two points ahead of the Wisconsin Badgers. There is a strong chance for Michigan State to take the sweep of the Badgers, or even a split and clinch the No. 1 seed in the conference that has been a continuous fight.

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Sophomore forward Karsen Dorwart (28) and graduate student forward Dalton Messina (14) participating in a faceoff during a game between Michigan State University and Ohio State University at Munn Ice Arena on Feb. 24, 2024.

The Spartans and Badgers will face off on Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2 at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin for the final series of the regular season. Both games will start at 9 p.m. and will be streamed on Big Ten Plus.

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