After a discouraging game on Thursday night, the crowd at Munn Ice Arena saw a completely different Michigan State hockey team on Friday. The Spartans beat Lake Superior State 2-0 at Munn and were able to split the weekend series.
“I thought we started way better than last night,” Tom Anastos said. “I thought we were way more poised and we played together without being so frantic early in the game. I thought as the game went on we got better.”
At his press conference after Michigan State fell to the Lakers 4-2 on Thursday night, Anastos said it would be interesting to see how his team came out and responded Friday night. The team certainly had a new frame of mind, as they came out with a lot of energy to start the game. They spent a lot of their time in the first period in the offensive zone, creating chances and ripping shot after shot at Laker goalie Nick Kossoff.
The first period was relatively quiet, as neither team was able to find the back of the net. There were a few penalties to both teams, but nothing would come of them.
It was looking as though the two teams were going to head into their respective locker rooms with a 0-0 tie, but Spartan forward JT Stenglein begged to differ. With roughly 25 seconds to play in the first, Stenglein was able to steal the puck from a Laker defender in the corner and out skate Kossoff to net his third goal of the season.
Stenglein is a player who has really found his groove for the Spartans so far this season. Through six games, Stenglein has six points. Senior captain Michael Ferrantino took note of those numbers.
“He’s always been able to score,” Ferrantino said. “At every level he’s played in, the guy has put pucks in the net. It’s just a matter of him being able to get in the right spots to score goals and now you’re seeing his hard work is paying off.”
The second period saw more of the same for the Spartans. More shots were taken, more possession was had and more chances were created.
Toward the end of the period, Mackenzie MacEachern found himself in behind the Laker defense when he caught a pass that had fallen out of mid air, but MacEachern was unable to bury the puck and play went on. John Draeger and Mason Appleton also created a number of chances, but no one was able to break through.
Eventually, as they usually do, things changed. With less than two minutes to play in the period, MSU’s Rhett Holland fired a shot from the point that deflected off Thomas Ebbing in front of the net and found it’s way in. The Spartans were able to add to their lead thanks to another late goal.
Spartan goaltender Jake Hildebrand recorded his 11th career shutout Friday in an impressive 21-save performance. Hildebrand faced several quality shots and looked calm, cool and collected between the pipes.
“I thought our D were very simple,” Hildebrand said. “They were blocking shots, making good first passes and things like that. They made my life pretty easy so hats off to them.”
The Spartans have next weekend off and will return to Munn Arena Nov. 6-7 as they take on the University of New Hampshire.