Michigan State sweeps the weekend in a duel with Penn State

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Emily Martin

Michigan State hockey faced off against Penn State in State College, PA this weekend in a top-20 matchup. On Friday the Spartans walked away with a 5-0 win in visiting territory, and again on Saturday with a final score of 7-3.

Earlier this season, Michigan State tied Penn State in the first game of the weekend set and came away with a win on the second night. This weekend, the two teams faced off for the second time this season, and the Spartans were able to secure another weekend sweep.

Friday night marked freshman goaltender Trey Augustine’s second shutout of the season. Augustine ranks fifth in goalie rankings in the NCAA with 565 saves so far this season, which is a massive milestone for the freshman.

In the first game of the weekend, MSU claimed the inaugural point of the night with a goal by junior forward Tanner Kelly. Shortly after the 10-minute mark of the first period, with only four men on the ice for MSU, graduate forward Reed Lebster banked an unassisted shorthanded goal, extending the Spartans’ lead to two at the end of the first 20 minutes.

3:51 into the second period, freshman forward Gavin O’Connell netted another unassisted goal for the Spartans. The following 10 minutes were quiet until sophomore forward Joey Larson found the net off an assist from junior forward Red Savage. The period finished at 4-0.

The fire continued between the Spartans and the Nittany Lions as the third period started off with numerous exchanged penalties between both teams.

It took just over 17 minutes into the third period for the puck to find the back of the net when Larson claimed his second goal of the night, assisted by fifth-year forward Nico Muller and freshman defenceman Artyom Levshunov. The night finished with a Spartan shutout win of 5-0.

Saturday evening, Michigan State channeled the same energy they had the night before, but the game started off in Penn State’s favor with a power play goal four minutes after the puck dropped.

The PSU lead didn’t last long however, as sophomore forward Karsen Dorwart tied it up with just under 12 minutes left in the first period. With seven and a half minutes left in the period, Larson secured a power play goal to take the lead, assisted by Muller and Levshunov.

The Spartans took the opportunity to show off a little more with a goal by Savage in the final four minutes of the first period, marking his eighth goal of the season. The first 20 minutes ended with a score of 3-1 in favor of MSU.

Taking the ice for the second period, Penn State had a two-man advantage with five-on-three. They came out with speed and aggression in hopes of preventing a repeat of the night before. Per usual, the Spartans matched their energy immediately and maintained control.

Across both nights, there was notable forechecking by Savage and Larson in efforts to use it to their advantage.

At the four-minute mark of the second period, Levshunov scored a goal from behind the net, assisted by Lebster and senior forward Jeremy Davidson. It didn’t stop there, as the Spartans were on a roll. Surrounded by white Penn State jerseys, O’Connell sounded the goal horn with an unassisted snipe, bringing the score to 5-1. This was his 10th goal of the season and was the second of the weekend matchup.

In the 11th minute of the second period, Penn State put the puck behind the net for their second goal of the night. Shortly after, the crowd went ballistic following a questionable play that even looked to have the referees stumped. Both teams received matching penalties resulting in a four-on-four play. Penn State challenged the call for review, but the call stood.

With just two minutes left in the second period, Lebster put yet another puck behind the net for his fifth of the season, assisted by Levshunov.

In a quick switch-up, the Nittany Lions sent the puck down to the Spartans’s end in the final four seconds of the period but resulted in a sharp save by Augustine, ending the period with another trio of goals for the Spartans.

The second period ended on a power play in progress, so the final period started with 10 seconds remaining of power play time and a five-on-four advantage for MSU.

Just two minutes in, Penn State claimed their third goal of the night, bringing the score to 6-3, but only temporarily. It was another quiet period, but senior defenceman and team captain Nash Nienhuis found the back of the net from the right side to put seven goals on the board for Michigan State.

After a close shot by sophomore forward Tiernan Shoudy, the period ended with a final score of 7-3.

This resulted in Michigan State’s highest-scoring game of the season.

MSU moved to 15-4-3 overall and 9-1-2 in the Big Ten Conference. The Spartans will travel back to home ice in East Lansing this coming week, for a matchup against the University of Michigan on Jan 19, and then travel down the road to Ann Arbor on Jan 20.

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