Persistence Pays Off for Spartans in Big Win

It was a special night at Munn Ice Arena Sunday night, as it marked the sixth annual Teddy Bear Toss, a holiday tradition where fans are encouraged to bring teddy bears to donate to children.

On the ice, perseverance paid huge dividends for Michigan State, on Sunday night as the Spartans erased three one-goal deficits en route to a 6-4 win against Clarkson.

“It was awesome,” said Joe Cox, who registered a career-high three points in the win. “The guys were going for all 60 minutes. They were scoring and then we were scoring and we ended up on top. It was huge for the guys.”

The Spartans got contributions all over the lineup, as three different players tallied their first goals of the season. Michigan State’s power play, meanwhile, ignited for a season-high three goals.

“It was nice to see six pucks go into the net for us offensively,” head coach Tom Anastos said. “In the end, it’s good to finish this part of the season off with a win.”

Pat Megannety got the scoring started for Clarkson on a 2-on-1 off of a Michigan State turnover. Megannety took the puck down the right side and beat Jake Hildebrand to the blocker side.

Seven minutes later, penalties to Kevin Tansey and Villiam Haag led to a 24-second four-on-four.

Just 19 seconds after Haag’s penalty, Michael Ferrantino was able to pot his team-leading eighth goal of the season on a rebound at the doorstep after John Draeger drove the net.

On cue, the teddy bears came flying in from the crowd of 4,334 at Munn Arena. Each of the teddy bears tossed onto the ice will go to the children’s wing at Sparrow Hospital.

The Golden Knights would reclaim their one-goal lead under three minutes later with 19.3 seconds in the period.

Paul Geiger threw the puck towards the net and Troy Josephs got his skate and then his stick on the puck inside the crease to put home his second of the season.

With Michigan State on the power play in the second period, Matt DeBlouw hammered home his fourth of the season from the top of the right circle on a nice touch pass from freshman Josh Jacobs.

The score would remain tied until Clarkson took it’s third lead of the game on Megannety’s second of the game.

Just two minutes later, Michigan State got a boost from an unlikely source to erase their third deficit of the night.

“It was nice to see us respond as we did today,” Anastos said. “I really liked how our team stayed focused on what we were doing.”

The turnaround started with the Spartans trailing 3-2, as a long stretch pass sprung Cox on a breakaway. Cox went in, deked and put the puck behind goaltender Ville Runola, who was replaced by Greg Lewis after giving up five goals on 24 shots.

On the breakaway, Cox took a slash from defenseman Tyko Karjalainen and the Finnish defenseman was assessed a five-minute major penalty.

[Ron] Boyd was able to get it to me and I knew I had time,” Cox said. “I went in, I scored and when I went to throw my hands up to celebrate my left side felt like I got a nice little jab to it. I didn’t feel it until I put my hands up.”

After scoring the goal, Cox spent a brief time in the tunnel before coming back and giving the Spartans the lead on the ensuing power play. As Cox was just on the edge of the crease, the puck went his way from a dribbling pass by Travis Walsh and Cox got a stick on it.

“My initial intention was to go to Thomas [Ebbing] back door and then it went off the toe of my stick and found five-hole,” Cox said. “A little bit of luck but I was really trying to pass it. I’ll take it.”

The two goals were Cox’s first goals of the season, which was the trend of the night for the Spartans.

Shortly after Cox notched his second goal of the game, Ebbing got off the skid and scored his first of the season off of a great forecheck by Cox, who caused Runola to turn the puck over behind his cage. Cox poked the puck to the front of the net and Ebbing slammed it in.

Three goals in a span of 3:13 put Michigan State up 5-3 after two periods. The four goals the Spartans scored in the second period was the most by the Spartans in one period since scoring four in the first period against Michigan back on November 10, 2012.

Todd Christian pulled the Golden Knights to within one goal before Ryan Keller gave the Spartans a 6-4 lead with his first of the season. Six goals marked a season-high for Michigan State and was their most goals in one game since beating Princeton 8-2 at Munn last December.

“Guys were going all the time, short shifts,” Keller said. “It really helps when you play in units of five. It takes everything off the [defense], forwards start scoring. I thought we played real well as units of five tonight.”

Michigan State has a few weeks off before playing Ferris State in the 50th Great Lakes Invitational on December 28.

Brian Bobal is the host of Behind the Mask for Impact Sports

Photo: Brian Bobal/Impact Sports