Even in 4-3 OT Loss, Exhibition Serves Its Purpose

In a battle between two Spartan goalies, one current and one future, the U.S. National Team Development Program made another visit to Munn Ice Arena to face off against the Michigan State Spartans in an exhibition match-up.

Edwin Minney, who has signed his National Letter of Intent in favor of the Spartans, started for the USANTDP and matched up in net against MSU sophomore Jake Hildebrand.

The two teams met last season in Munn, where the Spartans fell 3-0 to the under-18 team based out of Ann Arbor, Mich. This season, the game looked to be headed in a familiar direction for the Spartans when the visitors took a 3-0 lead in the second period, but two quick goals by MSU would make for a different outcome than last season.

“After they scored their third goal, I think there was definitely kind of a wake up call,” MSU sophomore Michael Ferrantino said.

After USANTDP scored two goals in the first period and Auston Matthews added their third goal 12:29 into the second period, the Spartans quickly responded with goals from freshman Joe Cox (13:19) and Ferrantino (15:19) to bring the score to 3-2 headed into the third period.

Ferrantino used last year’s performance against the opponent to fuel the Spartan response.

“There was no way we were going to let that happen again,” Ferrantino said. “I know I got pretty angry at what was going on.”

In the third period the Spartans continued to compete, but were forced to play shorthanded midway through the period after freshman Villiam Haag was called for hooking with 7:38 remaining. The Spartans killed almost half of the penalty when senior Greg Wolfe sent a cross-ice pass to junior forward Lee Reimer, who smacked a one-timer from the left circle past Minney to tie the game 3-3 with 6:57 remaining.

The game would be forced into a five-minute overtime, where Jack Eichel would record his second goal of the game and secure the victory for the USANTDP, 4-3.

“We can’t let this get to us,” senior captain Wolfe said. “It’s not the Big Ten. We have important games coming up and that’s what we have to focus on. The Big Ten tournament is right around the corner. That’s the goal. That’s what we’re focused on. This was a good game to stay fresh, but other than that, we’re not going to dwell on it by any means.”

The Spartans believed this game, win or loss, served its purpose in preparing them for their upcoming series against No. 14 Michigan and No. 6 Wisconsin.

“I think it served its purpose,” Wolfe said. “Obviously, we didn’t want to lose. I don’t think anybody is too frustrated. It is what it is. We’re not going to get down about this. It was more about just staying on the ice, playing a solid team and staying fresh. I think it served its purpose.”

Up next on the schedule is a home-and-home with the Wolverines starting this Friday in Ann Arbor. The following night, the Spartans will make their return to Munn Ice Arena to battle the Wolverines for the last time in the regular season.

Jonathan Yales is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.

Photo: Jonathan Yales/Impact Sports