‘He’s been incredible for us’: Cole Krygier overcomes tumultuous start with overtime winner


Jack Moreland

Cole Krygier celebrates after his game winning goal during Michigan State’s overtime victory over Penn State on January 13, 2023. Photo Credit: Jack Moreland/WDBM

Jacob Stinson, Hockey Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING — Entering his fifth year, few expected Cole Krygier to contribute much on offense. With only 10 goals to his name over 122 career games, that was a fair assumption. 

“I haven’t scored too many goals in my career,” Krygier said. “So this year has been a different one for me.”

Now he has eight on the season and is tied with Jagger Joshua for the team lead. Both Joshua and Krygier, who have been putting up career numbers, scored Friday night to complete the comeback against No. 5 Penn State, with the latter scoring the overtime winner.

“Jags put his work in in the weight room, in practice, and his habits are getting better, and he’s getting rewarded with it on the ice,” Michigan State head coach Adam Nightingale said. “And then Cole’s had a really good year. He’s done a really good job of being a leader for our team.”

Penalty trouble doomed the Spartans for much of the game. Penn State jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to a pair of 5-on-3 goals. The Spartans would take 39 total penalty minutes. Krygier accounted for 12 of those, earning a 10-minute misconduct to pair with a holding minor for abuse of an official.

“That’s kind of how it goes sometimes,” Krygier said. “Obviously, the penalty I thought was a little soft. I just told him to put the whistle away and he didn’t like that.”

With only about a half of a period left, the clock was ticking for a comeback, and with the amount of penalties the Spartans had been taking, there wasn’t much reason for optimism. MSU, who normally dresses seven defensemen, was down to only four after both Krygier’s penalty and sophomore David Gucciardi getting ejected for a cross check. Junior Nash Nienhuis had also missed the game with an injury he sustained Dec. 27 against Ferris State.

The Nittany Lions had generated plenty of chances against the depleted blue line, but a stellar game from goalie Dylan St. Cyr — who finished with 42 saves — kept it within reach.

“Dylan’s just unbelievable,” senior forward Erik Middendorf said. “He makes those saves every day in practice, too. You just question it. Like, how is he doing this? How is he moving like that?”

After serving his misconduct, Krygier made his return to the bench and the comeback began. He assisted on a Middendorf goal that got the Spartans on the board with 11:22 left. From there on, it wasn’t always pretty, but Michigan State got the bounces it desperately needed. From Middendorf’s goal to the end of regulation, Penn State outshot the Spartans 10-5. However, Joshua tied the game after getting his own rebound, and the Spartans would skate into overtime with the momentum.

“Go out and enjoy it,” Nightingale said to his team heading into the overtime period. “You guys have gotten back in this game. Heck of a job staying with it, but we’re not done.”

Then it was Krygier’s time to shine. With the clock winding down in overtime, he would collect the puck, and fire a wrist shot from a tough angle below the face-off dot and over the near shoulder of Penn State’s Liam Souliere to secure the win.

“I just figured (Penn State forward Danny Dzhaniyev) was kind of flat footed,” Krygier said. “I just got his feet to turn and went around him. I’ve been trying to go upstairs there all year, so it was lucky to go in.”


“We were joking with him about sitting for 12 minutes and coming out and being the best player on the ice,” Middendorf said. “So I think it was a strategy in a way for him, coming out like that. He’s incredible for us.”

For Krygier, however, moments like these were a long time coming. While he credited Nightingale for the system that gets him more involved, Krygier knew he had spent the time to prepare himself for when the opportunity came.

“I’ve done a lot of work in the offseason,” Krygier said. “I’ve gotten stronger. I’ve been shooting a lot of pucks in the shooting room. Little things like that where you don’t think they’re going to pay off right away. But then as you go on, they start to stack, and you end up having a really good time.”

The other half of Krygier’s preparation, the mental side of the game, turned out to be as important as the physical. 

“As you go through it, obviously you’ve got to handle your emotions,” he said. “I could have gotten pissed off and threw myself out of the game, but I just stayed calm and focused on it.”

Krygier’s overtime heroics led Nightingale to define Friday’s game as a “character win” for his team, highlighting their mental toughness. He noted that all of the Spartans’ remaining home games are standing room only, which he says is a result of fans noticing what they have accomplished through these culture-defining wins. 

“I think Michigan State people…they’re proud people who really respect work ethic and team play,” Nightingale said. “So to see our guys get rewarded and have that energy in Munn, I thought it was awesome and honestly probably made the difference in that game.”