By John Supan
EAST LANSING, Mich – Michigan State had its hands full for the first game of 2019, hosting the division leading Ohio State Buckeyes. The Stanley Cup was present at Munn Ice Arena Friday night and both teams performed as if they were battling for it in an 7-7 tie in overtime.
MSU and OSU played out the match in a second overtime period of 3-on-3, to decide who got the point in the conference standings, MSU snagged the extra point in an 8-7 decision.
The visitors were the first to find the back of the net in this game, just a little over a minute past in the first frame. The Spartans returned the favor some minute and thirty seconds following the OSU goal with a wrist shot from forward Taro Hirose; his 8th of the season.
The Buckeyes held on to a 3-2 lead heading into the first intermission. The speed and effectiveness of the Buckeye forwards caused problems for freshman goaltender Drew DeRidder in all five, yes five periods.
First-line centerman Mason Jobst of the Buckeyes extended the lead to 4-2 with 12:32 left in the second period. The Spartans did not answer with a goal of their own until the third period of play.
This is where the 5,585 fans in attendance really got their money’s worth. Ohio State right-winger Gustaf Westlund and defenseman Ryan O’Connell showed why their team is ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten; both scoring goals to make it 6-3 OSU.
“Then we had a shift where guys went out and we had a couple shots on net, and there was a little bit of life,” Michigan State head coach Danton Cole said.
Scoring three goals to tie the game doesn’t seem plausible against the best team in the conference. Yet, the Spartans were dedicated enough to score not three, but four goals in the third period in order to keep this game alive.
Michigan State defenseman Zach Osburn made an open ice hit that turned the tides with five minutes remaining. Osburn was the trend setter by scoring with 4:35 left in the third. Hirose along with a sensational slap shot from freshman defenseman Dennis Cesana with 47 ticks remaining evened the game at 7-7.
Overtime would be the only way to settle a battle of this proportion. Two overtime periods to be exact.
Having set the pace late in the third period, the Spartans entered the second overtime period with 36 shots on goal to OSU’s 39. It took only two more until the fourth-line left winger Logan Lambdin lit the lamp off a quick shot from the blueline to seal the game for the Spartans.
Michigan State skated away with an 8-7 tie against one of the top programs in the country. The game was called a tie despite MSU taking the lead in overtime, due to NCAA men’s hockey rules the match can not be considered a victory.
“I liked the way the guys battled, and that has got to be the minimum heading into tomorrow’s game,” Cole said.
Even though the game finished as a tie, MSU skated off the ice with high spirits as they prepare for another matchup against the Buckeyes tonight at 8:00 p.m.