Spartans Fall at No. 8/7 UMass-Lowell, 2-1
Ron Boyd scores for MSU in the loss.
Michael Kapla scored the winning goal 57 seconds into the third period. While shorthanded, Kapla got a pass from Adam Chapie in the left circle and scored with a rising shot over Jake Hildebrand's shoulder, giving UML a 2-1 lead.
The Spartans (1-3) bounced right back after the UML go-ahead goal, maintaining possession of the puck for a majority of the remainder of the game. The Spartans' feverish pace in the final three minutes yielded several golden chances both in the slot and off rebounds in front of the net. Thomas Ebbing had a pointblank look from the slot, while Joe Cox and Matt Berry both had rebound tries just off the side of the crease that wouldn't squeak past UML goaltender Jeff Smith.
"Our margin for error has been very slim and we've had a hard time converting on the opportunities that we create at the other end," MSU head coach Tom Anastos said. "We didn't get the results we were looking for, but at the same time I think we learned a lot about ourselves over the past two games."
UML (3-1-1) got the game's first goal just past the midway point of the first period. Following a string of two penalties to each team in a 2:10 span, it was the fifth - an elbowing call on Travis Walsh - that led to the River Hawk goal. On the ensuing power play, defenseman Dylan Zink picked off a clearing attempt by Ryan Keller, walked in from the left circle and beat Hildebrand with a shot along the ice.
"We knew that UMass-Lowell is a really good team and given their result on Friday night, we thought they would come after us hard in the first," Anastos said. "We were able to weather the storm a bit and were then gain a lot of momentum as we got into the second period."
Consecutive River Hawk penalties in the second period helped the Spartans generate some sustained pressure in the UML end. The Spartans came close on a pair of rebound tries off point shots by Walsh, but couldn't direct the rebounds past Smith.
The Spartans continued to push following the power plays and were rewarded at the 14:24 mark when Ron Boyd scored his first of the season to knot the game, 1-1. Brock Krygier kept the puck in the zone, firing it around behind the net from the right side where it found its way to Boyd near the hash marks on the left. Boyd made a couple of moves toward the goal and elevated a backhand into the upper right corner of the net.
Hildebrand finished the game with 20 saves, while Smith made 26.
Michigan State will return to action next weekend when it hosts Ferris State in a pair of games at Munn Ice Arena.