Spartan Rally Falls Short in 3-2 Loss
Patrick Khodorenko picked up assists on both MSU goals.
DETROIT - The Michigan State hockey team fell to No. 19 Michigan, 3-2, on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 19,515 at Little Caesars Arena in the annual “Duel in the D.” Twice the Spartans were down by a pair of goals in the third period and came back to pull within one, but were never able to get the equalizer. Taro Hirose and David Keefer scored for the Spartans, while Patrick Khodorenko had two assists.
“We got it to 3-2 and kept pressing. We want wins, obviously that’s the point of the game, but there was an awful lot of good there tonight,” MSU head coach Danton Cole said. “Where we’re moving there is a pretty good base of things and if you have to coach effort, you have no chance. The guys gave us all they had tonight.”
Michigan (14-13-3, 9-10-3-2) took a 1-0 lead 4:22 into the game on a goal by Cooper Marody. After a shot from the point, Tony Calderone collected the rebound on the left side and hit a wide open Marody in front.
The Spartans (10-18-2, 4-14-2-1) had a handful of chances to tie the game in the middle stanza, all of which came in the second half of the period. Cody Milan got a rebound in the low slot and spun to the net with a shot, but goaltender Hayden Lavigne turned it away. Later on, Mitchell Lewandowski put a rebound back toward the net from the slot, but Lavigne was able to get enough of the puck to keep it out of the net.
A major penalty to Lewandowski with 6:26 to go in the second gave the Wolverines a 5-minute power play. The Spartans nearly killed the major, but with 5 seconds to go in the penalty, Jack Becker got his stick on a loose puck in front and batted it past John Lethemon.
“Five more seconds or a better stick on that puck and we get the puck out of the slot area,” Cole said.
The Spartans got on the board 21 seconds into the third period after a faceoff win in the U-M end. Khodorenko won the draw cleanly back to Hirose in the right circle and he wasted no time, snapping a quick wrist shot past Lavigne for his 10th goal of the season.
After Michigan State nearly tied the game on a power play later in the period, the Wolverines reversed the momentum and took a 3-1 lead on a goal by Quinn Hughes at the 14:06 mark.
The Spartans responded again though, pulling within one 1:19 later. Carson Gatt and Khodorenko set up David Keefer, who moved up to play on a line with Khodorenko and Hirose after the Lewandowski ejection. Keefer got the puck near the left circle in the Michigan end and beat Lavigne with a high shot into the far corner of the net.
“David has jumped in and scored a few nice goals,” Cole said. “He’s a good player, he had a lot of success in the USHL and he’s just kind of feeling his way through.”
It looked as though MSU may have tied the game with just over two minutes to play when Milan sent the puck on net from just off the crease, but U-M defenseman Joseph Cecconi batted the puck down as it neared the goal line. The play was reviewed and officials determined the puck didn’t cross the goal line.
The Spartans pulled Lethemon in the final minute for the extra attacker, but couldn’t get the tying goal.
MSU finished with a 34-33 edge in shots on goal, including a 14-6 advantage in the third period.
“I thought we were a little simpler and a little faster (in the third period),” Cole said. “I thought we started getting that going a little bit in the second period, and then they have that 5-minute power play and that kind of took us out of that rhythm.
“I liked what our guys did in the third – they battled hard.”
Michigan State will play its final home series of the season next weekend, hosting Penn State on Friday and Saturday at Munn.