“We’re really here to make it a real rivalry”: Spartans make a statement in win over Michigan


Sarah Smith

Daniel Russell goes for the puck during Michigan State’s 2-1 victory over Michigan on December 9, 2022. Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM

Jacob Stinson, Hockey Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING — Tiernan Shoudy had been dreaming of this for a while. A native of St. Clair, Michigan, he grew up watching the Michigan State-Michigan hockey rivalry. The freshman was able to get his first taste of the action Friday.

“It’s so much different being in it,” Shoudy said. “Obviously, being on the outside is really fun, but being a part of it, it’s indescribable.”

Shoudy was born in 2002, so those games he grew up watching featured a much different Michigan State team. The Spartans won a national championship when he was five years old. At that time, Michigan State was a national contender and competed year after year with powerhouse programs like Michigan.

The more recent history of the rivalry, however, has been anything but close. The Wolverines beat the Spartans six times last season and won 11 of the previous 12 meetings.

Now, after scoring the game-winning goal in a 2-1 upset over No. 6 Michigan on Friday, Dec. 9, Shoudy got to make his mark on the rivalry.

“It’s just a dream come true,” Shoudy said. “I don’t know how many nights I’ve sat up thinking about scoring the game-winning goal.”

As the score would suggest, the game was as close as you could ask for. After TJ Hughes put Michigan up 1-0 midway through the first period, Cole Krygier would answer back with a shot that bounced off the glove of Wolverines goalie Erik Portillo and into the net, tying the game heading into the first intermission.

When the second period rolled around, Shoudy got his chance. Almost eight minutes in, Shoudy would find a loose puck off multiple shots from Tanner Kelly, and he’d tap it in to give the Spartans the 2-1 advantage.


From that point on, the win was a complete team effort. The Spartan defense held Michigan to only five shots on goal in the third period. The forwards were able to stymie the Michigan breakout and draw Portillo out of position multiple times, leading to grade-A scoring chances. 

“(Michigan doesn’t) like it to be hard,” Shoudy said. “So when you’re hard on them, hit them, forecheck them, they don’t like it, and they’re going to turn it over…And then we kind of just locked it down, too, which was the biggest part about it.”

Perhaps most important to the win was the play of goalie Dylan St. Cyr, who saved 22 of 23 shots, making a highlight reel’s worth of saves along the way. He made every type of stop in the book: routine saves, sliding across the crease, and seeing the puck through traffic.

His big night reached its peak at the end of the second period when a pair of diving saves from the graduate student sent Munn Ice Arena into a frenzy and galvanized his teammates for the rest of the way.

“You get so much confidence,” Shoudy said. “It’s not even just tonight. He’s been doing that all year…He has a really good feel for the game, and you get so much confidence when you see him. It gets the guys going on the bench for sure, and we want to go win for him when he’s making saves like that.”

With the win, the Spartans are hoping to forget about the rivalry games of years past and establish a new chapter in a series that’s been one-sided for so long.

“I think it’s important that we do our part in making it a rivalry,” MSU coach Adam Nightingale said. “The state of Michigan is a great hockey state and it’s important that both programs are going.”

In recent history, Michigan State hadn’t done much to make the series competitive. Dating back to the 2017-18 season, the Spartans had a 5-15-3 record against their in-state rival. Michigan ended MSU’s season last year with a sweep in the Big Ten tournament, outscoring the Spartans 12-1 over the two-game weekend, including an 8-0 blowout in the second game in Ann Arbor.

“I think everybody kind of knows the way that the Spartan-Michigan rivalry kind of is,” St. Cyr said. “We were just trying to come in here and start that new rivalry. This is kind of the start. We want them to know it’s not going to be easy, and that’s kind of the way we wanted to get it started. Obviously, in our barn with that crowd, it’s pretty exciting.”

Like St. Cyr said, the crowd at Munn Ice Arena helped provide a spark. The game was a sellout, and fans were lining up in droves well before the doors opened.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that they had a huge help in that game,” St. Cyr said. “I think that’s something that we really want to build here and continue to have. We really want to produce a good product that they want to come support and watch. I think that helps us and frustrates other teams.”

Nightingale is now the first Spartan hockey coach to beat Michigan in his first attempt. However, he’s more concerned with the players who had been on the losing end of this rivalry for so long.

“It’s not about me,” Nightingale said. “It’s about the guys, and you know, they’ve been on the other end of it, and so I was happy for them to get the win.”

In typical Nightingale fashion, he’s focused mostly on what winning big games like this does for the future of Michigan State hockey.

“It’s an important game,” Nightingale said. “At the end of the day, it’s Big Ten points…Yes, we want to win this game, and yes, the Big Ten points are where we want to keep building. We’re trying to lay a foundation of being a great program, and we’re starting to get there, but we’ve still got a ways to go.”