Michigan State dominated by Michigan 4-1 in first round of Big Ten tournament


MSU head coach Danton Cole talks with the media/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Ryan Radosevich, Hockey Beat Reporter

ANN ARBOR, Mich— Despite a goal from senior defenseman Dennis Cesana in the first period, Michigan State fell 4-1 to Michigan in the opening matchup of the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals. 

The Spartans opened up the scoring early on the power play courtesy of captain Dennis Casana, but it was all Michigan after that, scoring four unanswered goals to take the first game of the weekend best-of-three series.

“Our job now is to be better tomorrow and get on the right side of the scoresheet … let’s play on Sunday,” MSU coach Danton Cole said.

MSU head coach Danton Cole talks to his team in the locker room after a game/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Five minutes into the first period, Michigan was assessed with a too many men on the ice penalty, giving the Spartans their first power play opportunity of the night. Just 39 seconds later, Cesana scored his eighth goal of the year with a wrister from the right face-off dot to make it 1-0 MSU.

“We had our legs under us early and forechecked, it helps we converted on our power play there,” Cesana said.

The Wolverines responded with a 5-on-3 goal at the 12-minute mark after senior forward Adam Goodsir and Jagger Joshua got whistled for two minor penalties. Wolverine sophomore forward Matty Beniers capitalized in front off an assist from fellow sophomore Thomas Bordeleau to tie it up at one. Both teams would generate several solid scoring chances, but the score would remain tied at one after the first period.

Out of the locker room, Michigan picked up where it left off at the end of the first. Freshman defenseman Luke Hughes rifled the puck the far post from the high slot while Spartan goaltender Drew DeRidder was screened to make it 2-1 with 16 to go in the second.

“There were some turnovers early in the second, some lateral plays at the blue line that led to a bit of a momentum change and made us chase the game,” Cole said. 

Halfway through the second, the Wolverines extended the lead to 3-1 thanks to forward Luke Morgan’s tip-in goal that found its way past a sprawling DeRidder. Cole used his timeout to challenge for goaltender interference but the tally stood.  

“I thought it was a worthwhile challenge,” he said. 

MSU head coach Danton Cole talks with his team in the locker room before a game/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

The Spartans were able to subdue the offensive force and get some great chances from forwards Mitchell Lewandowski and Kristof Papp, but Michigan goaltender Erik Portilo turned each shot away en route to a 23-save performance.

“We had chances, we just gotta capitalize on a couple of them and then it’s a tight game,” MSU freshman Tanner Kelly said.

The Wolverines extended their lead to three goals just over three minutes into the third when freshman Mackie Samoskevich stole the puck at his own blue line, skated down the ice, and tossed it near side on DeRidder.

With the clock ticking down and tensions rising, a large scuffle broke out to the right of the Spartan net. Johnny Beecher and Dylan Duke for Michigan and Mitchell Mattson and Cole Krygier for MSU were all assessed 10-minute game misconducts for roughing but will be able to play tomorrow.

“Just a little skirmish at the end, boys will be boys,” Cole said.

With the loss, the Spartans dropped to 12-22-1 overall. It was also MSU’s fifth loss to Michigan on the season and its fourth against the Wolverines by at least three goals. The Spartans will need to win tomorrow to force a Game 3, or the season will be over. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.