ANN ARBOR, Mich. – On Friday, Feb. 9, the Michigan State hockey team defeated the Michigan Wolverines 5-1 in the second set of in-state rivalry games this season at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor. After splitting their last series, the Spartans came into this game looking to get a win in game one.
Michigan State has worked tirelessly to prove its talent this far in the season, and with only five more games left this year, they are not looking to let up anytime soon.
“We still have a long way to go. We’re headed in the right direction and it’s exciting,” head coach Adam Nightingale said. “We just got to focus on one game at a time.”
Skating onto the ice with pure determination and speed, freshman forward Tommi Mannisto took a shot on the Wolverines’ net in the first minute but just missed wide. This seemed to set the tone for the rest of the first period.
Michigan State successfully kept possession of the puck throughout the first period, dominating on the opponent’s end. The Spartans put up some great shots on the Wolverines’ net but failed to get any past Michigan goaltender Jake Barczewski.
Throughout the entirety of the game, there was intense commotion in front of the net for both sides, but the pressure seemed to build immensely in front of Michigan’s net. Despite the scramble, freshman goaltender Trey Augustine made some strong saves, one particularly standing out at 7:44 into the first.
Mannisto and freshman defenceman Patrick Geary were noted for their speed in the first period, with both Spartans stopping near breakaway attempts by the Wolverines.
Around the end of the first period, it seemed that Michigan was getting a little impatient and somewhat testy towards Michigan State, but the Spartans kept their composure in response to their aggression.
Fifth-year forward Nico Muller tried to claim the first goal of the night with an incredible shot on Barczewski, but hit the post and deflected the other way. The end of the period remained scoreless.
The clock continued for another 10 and a half minutes before someone got a puck into the net, which went to the Wolverines. Like most times, the Spartans aren’t going to let Michigan get too excited. Junior forward Tanner Kelly swiftly banked in a goal for MSU just 25 seconds after Michigan got one past Augustine, tying the score 1-1 with 9:20 left in the second period. The assists went to Mannisto and sophomore forward Tiernan Shoudy.
The effort was there by both teams, but nobody could break the tie in the final minutes of the second period, keeping the board showing 2-2.
Going into the third period the game was still completely up for grabs for the final 20 minutes. That was until sophomore forward Daniel Russell lit the lamp at Yost Ice Arena for Spartan goal number three, assisted by sophomore forwards Isaac Howard and Karsen Dorwart in the fourth minute.
“I think it just shows you know, we can go play in any environment, we’re not going to be timid or anything like that,” Howard said. “I think that’s a great, great quality to have as a team.”
That wasn’t enough though, as freshman defenceman Maxim Strbak claimed another for Michigan State at 8:13 into the final 20 minutes. A lot of aggressive back-and-forth momentum filled much of the third period until Michigan State decided to give the audience a moment of deja vu.
For the second time that evening, the Spartans favored scoring a goal within 25 seconds of the previous one, but this time it was two MSU goals within 25 seconds of each other. Not only that, but the goals happened to be empty netters by junior forward Red Savage and senior forward Jeremy Davidson.
Savage and Davidson brought the final score to 5-1 at the buzzer, solidifying the Spartans’ first consecutive wins at Yost Ice Arena since 2017. Michigan State will look to complete the sweep against Michigan as both sides prepare for the annual Duel in the D at Little Caesars Arena on Saturday night. Puck drop is set for 8:30 pm.