The No. 11 Michigan State hockey team took on No. 17 Penn State this weekend in a pair of games, looking to continue their winning ways after sweeping Ohio State.
On Friday, the Spartans led the first period and into the second with a score of 3-0, until Penn State came back with a goal at the end of the second period. The Nittany Lions scored twice in the third period, sending the night into overtime with a tie. The Spartans fell in the fourth-round shootout.
Moving on to the contest on Saturday, the Spartans started the game off strong with a speedy goal by junior forward Tanner Kelly, just 30 seconds after the puck dropped for the first period. Shortly after, Penn State returned the favor and then some, netting two goals within 20 seconds of each other.
MSU tried to find their rhythm following the first period being down two goals to Penn State. After an insightful intermission, the Spartans came back onto the ice with fire and speed, maintaining possession of the puck with a chip on their shoulder. Sophomore forward Joey Larson and sophomore defenseman Viktor Hurtig were players to note in the second period.
“Their hair was a little dry after the first period and then their hair was soaking wet after the second. Pretty simple concept but amazing how much it works,” head coach Adam Nightingale said after the rocky start.
Nightingale’s focus was on holding the puck, extending plays, and implementing a little bit of pressure.
“It was kind of a slow start to the first period and [Nightingale] came in and gave a good speech to us,” Kelly said. “I think all the boys kind of rallied together going out for that second period. We brought a lot more energy like in the locker room on the bench, and I think that kind of translated over into our game, and we came out in the second and played a lot better.”
After three clean shots just short of the net, fifth-year forward Nicolas Muller secured the point ten minutes into period two, tying up the score 2-2. With 2:02 left on the clock in the period, freshman forward Gavin O’Connell secured another goal for MSU off an assist by junior forward Red Savage and Larson. A repeat of the first period, Penn State returned the goal and tied the game once again at three goals a piece.
O’Connell netted his second goal of the night, this one assisted by sophomore forwards Isaac Howard and Karsen Dorwart. O’Connell dominated the last two periods of the game, with majority possession over the puck and Kelly keeping right there with him. The aggression was strong with both teams, but Penn State took a call for roughing.
The Spartans gained a power play and an open net opportunity, which freshman defenseman Artyom Levshunov took into his own hands. In the final 38 seconds, Levshunov buried the puck into the open net, finalizing the score at 5-3, securing a Spartan victory.
The Spartans will return to the ice at Munn Ice Arena next week for a two-game series beginning Nov. 17 against Wisconsin.