MSU ties Arizona State 1-1 in season opener


MSU defenseman Christian Krygier skates against Michigan/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Kyle Hatty, Hockey Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING – Michigan State  opened their 2020-21 hockey season on Friday night at home against Arizona State (0-2). The Sun Devils started the season ranked No. 15 in the USCHO preseason poll but dropped out of the ranks after a poor performance in Ann Arbor last weekend against Michigan; the Sun Devils managed to score one goal in the entire series.

 These two teams met in mid-December last season where Arizona State took game one 4-3 and Michigan State took game two 1-0 in overtime with the lone goal coming from returning winger Mitchell Lewandowski.

 Arizona State started slow last weekend in both games against the Wolverines and let up early goals to get in an early hole. That was similar to what happened tonight. 

Michigan State came out with more intensity and a much more vocal bench. The Spartans tested the Sun Devils freshman goalie Cole Brady early on with some good chances that were generated by the MSU veteran players. 

Unlike the Michigan series, the slow start didn’t cost Arizona State and they took a scoreless tie into the first intermission.

 “I liked the start, I like what we did early,” MSU head coach Danton Cole said. “Coach Mason used to say, ‘when the blood stops pooling to your head, that’s when you make mistakes.,’” We saw a little of that in the third, but that’s something we’ll come around, and I expect that to be better tomorrow.”

That scoreless tie didn’t continue far into the second period. Arizona State started puck watching, and Josh Nodler set up Christian Krygier for his first career goal off a one-timer to make it 1-0 Spartans less than two minutes into the middle period. 

The rest of the period was back and forth, with both teams testing each other’s goaltenders with time on the power play, but nobody broke through.

The Sun Devils got close twice—one shot from the point rang off the post—but the more exciting one was Arizona State senior James Sanchez trying the “Michigan ” and nearly accomplishing the lacrosse goal.

 “I thought they were pretty good,” Cole said when asked about his team’s legs. “First and second were good, in the third, they started to look like practice legs, and they had a little bit more jump.”

The Sun Devils needed to come out stronger in the final period if they wanted to secure their first win of the year. It looked bleak for the Sun Devils as time wound down.

Arizona State had issues generating anything on offense all day; Michigan State played a strong neutral zone trap all game that Arizona State never seemed to get a handle on. However,  with 4:14 left in regulation, a bouncing puck landed in front of DeRidder, and junior Chris Grando tucked it far side to make it 1-1.

 “I thought we were pretty solid defensively,” said Cole. “Little mix up, we got beat off the wall on the game tying goal and our back-side help wasn’t very good, neutral zone we need to be a little better but overall, pretty good.”

That score didn’t change so the teams went to overtime. It was a five-minute, sudden death, 3-on-3 overtime period with no shootout.

 “Score first,” Cole said sarcastically as to what he told his young team before overtime. “We’ve worked on it in practice, and we’ve talked about how if you have some speed, take advantage of it. I thought we did a pretty good job at that. We don’t have to force it if it wasn’t there.”

 Both teams had good looks, but this one ended in a 1-1 tie. Michigan State won the battle in the shot department (26-23), as well as the faceoff circle (31-28).

 The Spartans (0-0-1) and Sun Devils (0-2-1) will face off again tomorrow night at Munn at 6 p.m.