After an early deficit, MSU hockey stormed back and defeated the US National Team Development Program, 5-2

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Following the New Year, Michigan State hockey returned to East Lansing to face off in an exhibition match against the US National Team Development Program.

Hours before the game, two Spartans won gold medals at the World Junior Ice Hockey Championship game against Sweden after going undefeated in the tournament.

Michigan State was eager to get back on home ice after the Great Lakes Invitational tournament in Grand Rapids the week before, and the fans were too.

MSU was quick to get the puck down to the opponent’s end, but not quick enough. Only two and a half minutes into the game, the US drew first blood and led 1-0. The early deficit didn’t dampen the Spartans’ attack however, as they pushed back in the next 10 minutes of the first period.

With 7:31 left in the first period, freshman defenceman Austin Oravetz tied up the score with his first goal of the season, courtesy of an assist by freshman forward Griffin Jurecki.

“It definitely felt great. It’s been a little bit since I scored a goal so that one definitely felt good,” Oravetz said. “Griff made a great pass to the middle and I just had the whole net to put it in.”

One goal didn’t satisfy the Spartans however, as sophomore forward Karsen Dorwart tacked on another goal, assisted by junior forward Tanner Kelly and freshman defenceman Artyom Levshunov to give the Spartans a one-point lead at the end of the period.

The second period was long and quiet for both teams, neither of which were able to net the puck. At 15:05, sophomore forward Joey Larson took it into his own hands with the help of Levshunov and junior forward Red Savage, to secure another point for MSU, giving the Spartans a two-goal advantage at the end of the second period.

Michigan State came onto the ice for the final period with speed and hunger to put this one away. Within one minute of being on the ice for the third period, freshman forward Gavin O’Connell set off the goal horn, bringing the score to 4-1.

The US National Team Development Program came to prove itself in the competition against MSU, with three of the US players being MSU commits.

“We’re really excited about [the commits]. I think all of them bring some different elements… we’re looking forward to getting them here,” head coach Adam Nightingale said.

To his surprise, senior goaltender Jon Mor made his debut with only two minutes to prepare. Emotions ricocheted throughout Munn Ice Arena as he made his debut.

At 17:31, the US got the puck past Mor, but he successfully blocked every other shot attempt by the US during the third period.

“I haven’t felt anything like that in a long time,” Mor said. “I’m pretty emotional about it, it’s been a hard four years but this makes it all worth it.”

With the Spartans beaming, they returned the favor in the final two minutes of the game with an empty netter by sophomore forward Daniel Russell, assisted by Oravetz and junior defenceman David Gucciardi.

A 5-2 final score would give the Spartans the victory in the exhibition.

As soon as the final buzzer rang, all of the Spartans rushed to Mor, each player exchanging hugs with the goaltender. It was all smiles and love for Michigan State on Friday.

“I love those guys to death… it makes me happy that they love me like that,” Mor added. “I would do the same for them if the roles were reversed.”

Michigan State will go on the road next to Penn State, with puck drop set for 7 pm on Jan. 12 and 4:30 pm on Jan. 13.

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