Tuesday, April 23, 2024

MSU hockey crowned Big Ten Tournament champions for first time in program history

March 24, 2024
<p>Sophomore forward Karsen Dorwart (28) facing off during a game against University of Michigan at Munn Ice Arena on March 23, 2024.</p>

Sophomore forward Karsen Dorwart (28) facing off during a game against University of Michigan at Munn Ice Arena on March 23, 2024.

Photo by Donté Smith | The State News

The time had come for Michigan State men's hockey. A chance to prove itself as the team it had shown the whole season. With the opportunity to host the Big Ten championship game, the Spartans welcomed the University of Michigan Wolverines. After a game that lasted three full periods and an overtime, the Michigan State hockey team took home the win and was crowned tournament champions, after a 5-4 win.

From the get-go, both teams were ready to attack the puck at any given second. However, within 59 seconds of puck drop, the Wolverines got a fast break near freshman goaltender Trey Augustine and put themselves on the board for an early advantage.

The Spartans took the first power play after a slashing call was made on the Wolverines, giving MSU the two-minute man advantage. With the few good looks that Michigan State had, it couldn’t make the capitalization on the power play.

The heated rivalry was quick to show its colors, with shoves in front of the net and checks into the board, but the emotions of the game were kept under wraps, unlike the 7-1 loss at Munn Ice Arena in early January. The Spartans played tough on defense and the Wolverines gave their effort right back.

With the effort for a goal being shown on the ice from Michigan State, the team's hard work paid off, as sophomore forward Tanner Kelly lit the lamp and sent the electric Munn through the roof to tie the game at 1-1.

Michigan State would soon get an ice penalty after the team had too many players on the ice. After the penalty, Red Savage almost scored a breakaway goal but Michigan's netminder Jake Barczewski made the save. Heading into the second period, the score was still 1-1.

The Spartans continued their hunt into the second period, coming out with just as much energy as the first, and both teams continued to play on their toes, as there was just one shot on goal from the first three minutes. However, Michigan State broke the drought and quickly put two consecutive shots on net, prohibiting Michigan from a shot attempt for the first 10-and-a-half minutes of the second period.

MSU continued domination in its offensive and defensive zones and were able to prevent Michigan from reaching the blue paint — a threat to Augustine.

Michigan State put a second goal on the board just over halfway through the second period, as sophomore forward Daniel Russell caught Barczewski on a wide open net and put the puck to the back of the net to take a 2-1 lead.

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Sophomore defenseman Matt Basgall (9) celebrating his goal during a game against University of Michigan at Munn Ice Arena on March 23, 2024.

Just after the goal, Savage took his second hooking penalty of the night, sending the Spartans to the penalty kill, and the Wolverines took advantage of it just 30 seconds into the man advantage and tied the game at two apiece. 

The Wolverines quickly put a third goal on net with just four minutes to go in the middle period, giving them that single goal advantage. But, shortly after, Michigan State tied up the game after senior forward Jeremy Davidson was able to push the puck under the pad of Barczewski.

With just milliseconds left in the second period, Michigan State went into the final period with a one goal advantage, after sophomore defenseman Matt Basgall ripped the puck from the blue line straight to the back of the net.

It came down to the final 20 minutes, as the Spartans came out ready for the third period and a fight to the finish. 

Just three minutes into the third period, the Wolverines tipped in a game-tying goal past Augustine.

The fans in the building remained anxious, as the game would continue tied up, even after a clean breakaway attempt from the line of Savage, sophomore forward Joey Larson and freshman forward Gavin O'Connell.

The third period would go with few bumps in the road, the Spartans pushing as hard as they possibly could toward the net, but as the clock ran down, the realization set in. Overtime was among the two in-state rivals, and the next team to score would be crowned the Big Ten Tournament champions.

The overtime period started and the next goal to win would take it all. The crowd's screams ripped through the arena, as they stood on their feet, chanting for the Spartans to take the title home and make the program history that they had been looking for the entire season.

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MSU mascot Sparty celebrating a goal during a game against University of Michigan at Munn Ice Arena on March 23, 2024.

The overtime period was calm nonetheless for the teams, as no penalties were taken even though the shots on goal continued to ramp up against both netminders. It was a continuous back-and-forth until freshman defenseman Patrick Geary sent the Spartans home with just six minutes left in the overtime period after scoring the game-winning goal, crowning the Spartans Big Ten champions for the 2024 season. 

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The Michigan State Spartans will head to the NCAA Tournament next weekend with an automatic bid. The location, date and time will be announced tomorrow on Big Ten Network and ESPN at 6:30 p.m. for Selection Sunday, where they look to continue their historic run.

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