Michigan State hockey makes history, winning their first Big Ten championship title in a 5-4 OT victory over Michigan

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Emily Martin

Saturday, Mar. 23 will be a date now etched in history for the Michigan State hockey team. The roar from the 6,555 fans in attendance after freshman defenseman Patrick Geary scored the overtime winner against the Michigan Wolverines for the Big Ten championship title will echo through the halls of Munn Ice Arena for years to come. The Spartan’s 5-4 win will mark the team’s first Big Ten postseason title and their first postseason title since 2006.

“I got the puck and our third goalie Jon Mor just told me to shoot it, so I just put my head down and ripped it and looked up last second just to see it go in,” Geary said. “I turned around and went to Trey because obviously, he’s a big reason why we won that game.”

Freshman goaltender Trey Augustine, who hoisted the game’s Most Outstanding Player trophy, has a 33-save night in his Big Ten championship debut. Since the start of 2024, the 19-year-old net-minder has won the gold medal at the World Juniors, the Big Ten regular-season title, and now the championship as well. The freshman was never focused on the trophies, only on his game, which is a large part of what led him to his success all season.

Emily Martin

“I’m not one to look ahead and expect things. I know you have to earn it every day,” Augustine said. “I knew that definitely there would be possibilities, but I think for me, it’s about going through the day-to-day. I just put my head down and get the work done.”

This game would never be an easy one for Michigan State, with Michigan hunting for their third consecutive Big Ten championship title. The Wolverines proved their skill in the opening minute of play when sophomore forward Frank Nazar III scored in the first 58 seconds of the period. Nazar’s goal would be the second-quickest in championship game history. This started the momentum for the Wolverines and the ice would be tilted in their favor of Michigan for most of the first period outshooting the Spartans 14-6. Junior forward Tanner Kelly would open up scoring for Michigan State at the midway point of the period. This would be Kelly’s fourth point against the Wolverines this season and leave the game knotted heading into intermission.

Emily Martin

The second period started with a lot of back-and-forth from each team, but the two top-scoring teams in the conference would not stay down long. There were five total goals in the period, with each team answering the other as quickly as they could in the final ten minutes. Sophomore forward Daniel Russell would start by taking the lead first for the Spartans off a rebound.

The next two goals came from junior forward Dylan Duke on the power play and a clean top-shelf flip from graduate defenseman Marshall Warren. Senior forward Jeremy Davidson would tie for the Spartans and it was looking like the game would be knotted once again at intermission until the final 0.7 seconds when sophomore defenseman Matt Basgall would take a snipe from the blue line and score before the horn sounded for the go-ahead goal for the Green and White.

“The first minute and last minute of each period you want to try to be good,” head coach Adam Nightingale said. “We weren’t good in the first minute of the first period and got scored on and we got it back on the rails and obviously scoring one late like that gave us some juice going into the third.”

At the start of the third period, there was a tense energy felt throughout the arena and on the ice. Once again in the opening minutes, Nazar put the puck behind Augustine on a deflection to tie the game. For the rest of the period, both Augustine and graduate goaltender Jake Barczewski played lights out and sent the championship game into overtime. This is where Michigan State’s rigorous training and practices would work in their favor. They could keep the intensity.

“We knew what work we put in since July,” Geary said. “We had all the faith in us and we knew we’d take it out.”

Both teams had six shots each in overtime, but the Spartan’s sixth shot would come from Geary on the blue line. As the goal horn sounded, helmets, sticks, and gloves from the Spartans littered the ice and the team took in their first-ever championship title in front of their fans. In just two years at the helm of the program coach Nightingale continues to make history in East Lansing.

Emily Martin

“You could argue that might have been the biggest game at Munn in its history,” Nightingale said. “That crowd was awesome and it was awesome last week and it’s been awesome all year. For them to stick with us and believe in us, we had to earn it.”

The Spartans still have hockey left to play and will await to learn their bid for the NCAA tournament, which will be announced on Mar. 24.

“Now this time of year dress rehearsal is done, it’s win or go home,” Nightingale said. “We gotta make sure we get some rest, get back at it, and be ready for whoever we are going to play.”

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