EAST LANSING – Arizona State traveled to East Lansing to take on Michigan State for a Valentine’s Day matinee. The Sun Devils defeated the Spartans 3-2 to take game one of a two-game series in a thriller that came down to the very end.
“We did some things well tonight,” Spartan head coach Danton Cole said. “We’ll have to do those well tomorrow and maybe pick up in some other areas. Tough one, but we’ll see.”
With the loss, the Spartans dropped to 6-11-2 on the season, while the Sun Devils improved to 6-13-2.
The game saw action right out of the gate. Arizona State won the opening faceoff and scored on Spartan goalie Drew DeRidder 13 seconds into the game thanks to forward Dominic Garcia’s first goal of the season. Starting slow in the first game of a series is nothing new this season for MSU. With today’s loss, the Spartans are 1-7-2 in opening series games on the year.
The Spartans evened the playing field in the latter half of the first period by settling down and generating high-percentage scoring chances in the Sun Devils’ zone; MSU finished the opening period with 15 shots—relatively high for the Spartans in a period this season. The Sun Devils finished the first with 11 shots on goal.
The middle period saw quick action as well. Just 36 seconds into the second period, the Spartans tied it up after defenseman Dennis Cesana shot the puck off the draw, and senior captain Tommy Apap deflected it in to make it 1-1. The rest of the period saw a plethora of scoring chances for both sides, including a game misconduct by Spartan defenseman Christian Krygier. With just under two minutes to play in the period, Krygier was called for an elbow to the head on Sun Devil forward Matthew Kopperud. Krygier was given a game misconduct and the Spartans were assessed a five-minute major that was served by Kristof Papp.
The third period began with 3:04 of power play time that carried over from the second due to the Krygier major penalty.
The Spartans successfully killed off the major penalty, and both teams generated numerous scoring chances, but nobody broke through until the period began winding down. Arizona State took the 2-1 lead with 5:26 to go after forward Chris Grando got the puck out front and put the Sun Devils ahead.
All that goal did was set up the crazy ending that would follow it.
Down one with 1:38 to go in regulation, the Spartans headed to the power play. MSU s threatened, and forward Mitchell Lewandowski scored on a one-timer, but it was so fast that the referees didn’t see the puck go in and both teams played until the clock hit zeroes and the teams started skating off the ice. After that, MSU challenged and won the challenge (if you missed the goal you can see it here). Fifty additional seconds were added on the clock and the teams were back even at 2-2.
“I had no idea [it went in], even when I got back to the bench.” Lewandowski said. “When the game ended obviously I wanted it reviewed to give us a chance like everyone else, I just thought it hit the post to be honest.”
However, the dramatic goal didn’t end up mattering because Arizona State defenseman Jacob Semik backhanded a goal past DeRidder with 40 seconds left, which sealed the 3-2 win.
“Sucks, there’s no other way to put it, especially being out there on the ice,” grad transfer Charlie Combs said. “Just sucks, we just got to forget it and use it as energy tomorrow.”
Michigan State logged 38 shots in this contest—one more than both of their games against Wisconsin combined.
Arizona State and Michigan State will close out their season series Monday night in East Lansing with puck drop at 5 p.m