The stage was set for Michigan State to earn a much needed win at home: A seemingly inferior opponent, a full student section, and Michael Ferrantino and Ryan Keller back in the lineup.
Instead, a slow start doomed the Spartans to a 4-2 loss to Lake Superior State in front of a sparse home crowd.
“Very disappointed in our performance, more than the result, the performance on opening night at home…,” head coach Tom Anastos said. “Very disappointed.”
MSU started slow and looked sloppy throughout the entire game.
“I didn’t think we played smart, I didn’t think our energy level was where it should be,” Anastos said.
Furthermore, Anastos was disappointed with the way players tried to win the game all by themselves.
“Guys tried to do too much,”Anastos said. “Guys tried to beat two and three guys when they should make a simpler play. Guys had pucks on their stick with guys open, they didn’t get it to them. I mean, little fundamental things.”
While the Spartans got on the board late in the first, thanks to John Draeger’s snipe from the top of the circles, they could not convert other opportunities earlier in the period.
Midway through the second frame, a costly turnover in the defensive zone landed on the stick of Laker forward J.T. Henke. Henke sent a wrist-shot into a wide open net to tie the game 1-1.
MSU’s Joe Cox had a chance to regain the lead on a penalty shot but missed.
Later in the frame, the Lakers capitalized on a shorthanded chance. Freshman defenseman Zach Osburn mishandled a puck on the offensive zone. The Lakers pounced on it and got a 2-on-1 into the Spartan zone. Bryce Schmitt burned Spartan goalie Jake Hildebrand on the play and the Lakers went up 2-1.
Lake Superior State took a 3-1 lead off of C.J. Hayes’ strike late in the third.
Less than three minutes into the third period, MSU pulled within one after Mackenzie MacEachern poked home his third of the year.
The Spartans had several more chances, including a late powerplay, to tie the game. However, the Lakers managed an empty net goal with 56 seconds to go.
Michigan State outshot LSSU 31-23, but was 0-4 on the power play. The Spartans are 0-12 on the man advantage since the first week of the season.
“I think that a lot of it’s just practice,” Ferrantino said. “This early in the year it’s hard to get a lot of time to do it.”
After suffering their third straight loss, the Spartans find themselves behind the eight-ball with a 1-3-1 record.
After the game Anastos said his team has to be better at getting mentally prepared for games like Thursday’s.
“It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself,” Anastos said. “It’s easy to say ‘Aw geez, you know we’ve been on the road, and the schedule’s been a bit of a grind’ that doesn’t matter though. You’ve got to be able to put two games together a week, with a terrific effort… You’ve got to be able to control things that you can control and we didn’t do a good enough of that tonight.”
The onus is now on the Spartans to come in with the right frame of mind for Friday’s game.
“I think it will be a real tough test mentally, to see how we respond to this,” Anastos said. “It’ll be real interesting to see our team tomorrow.”
Michigan State concludes their series with Lake Superior State on Friday at 7:00 p.m. at Munn Ice Arena.