DENVER - The Michigan State hockey team dropped the first of a two-game series with No. 5 Denver on Friday night, falling to the Pioneers, 4-2, at Magness Arena. With the Spartans (1-1-1) leading 2-1 just past the midway point of the third period, Denver (2-1) scored a pair of goals in a 3:19 span to take its first lead of the night and later added an empty-netter in the final seconds.
“I thought our guys competed hard tonight against a really good team,” said MSU head coach Tom Anastos. “We’re missing a few guys with injuries right now and are a little thin, but I thought every guy in the lineup competed hard and we gave ourselves a chance.
“We made a couple mistakes late in the game; we have to regroup and come back on Saturday.”
Stenglein got the Spartans on the scoreboard 1:03 into the opening frame, netting his second goal in as many games.
Stenglein took the puck from Carson Gatt in the neutral zone and went wide around Denver defenseman Blake Hillman where he put a shot on goaltender Even Cowley. Cowley got a piece of Stenglein’s attempt, sending the puck into the air where Hillman tried to bat it away, but instead tipped it into the Pioneer net.
The Pioneers’ Emil Romig capitalized on a turnover deep in the MSU zone to knot the game just past the midway point of the first period.
The second period featured a handful of chances by each team, most of which came on power plays. The Spartans went 0-for-3 on the man advantage in the middle stanza, including 1:43 of a 5-on-3 late in the period.
Grant Arnold’s backhand clanked off the iron and Trevor Moore hit the post with a shot on the Pioneers’ pair of power plays in the period, but the game stayed tied through 40 minutes.
After withstanding pressure in the defensive zone early in the third period, the Spartans reclaimed the lead, 2-1, 3:14 into the final frame when DeBlouw put home a perfect pass from Mason Appleton on an odd-man rush.
Mackenzie MacEachern took the puck as the Spartans broke out of their end and dished it to Appleton on the right side in the neutral zone. Appleton eventually laid a perfect cross-ice pass to DeBlouw, who was breaking toward the net on the left side and the senior knocked the puck home from just outside the crease for his first goal of the season.
The Pioneers got the equalizer with 10:35 to play in the third as defenseman Matt VanVoorhis collected the puck at the top of the left circle and wristed it high into the net.
Gabe Levin gave Denver its first lead of the night 3:19 later. Moore set up the goal from near the right corner when he found Levin in the high slot, who snapped the puck past Hildebrand.
Logan O’Connor’s empty-net goal with four seconds on the clock sealed the game.
The Pioneers outshot the Spartans, 36-27.
The two teams will meet again Saturday night at 9 p.m. ET.