Dec. 6, 2013
EAST LANSING - The Michigan State hockey team played No. 1 Minnesota to a 2-2 tie, but won the shootout, 1-0, in its inaugural Big Ten game on Friday night at Munn Ice Arena. After a scoreless overtime session, the Spartans won the shootout, 1-0, to pick up two points in the Big Ten standings. The Spartans are now 5-7-1 overall and 0-0-0-1 in the Big Ten, while Minnesota is 11-2-2 and 2-0-1-0 in conference play.
"I thought our team competed very well against a very good team tonight," said Michigan State head coach Tom Anastos. "I think it was a good step forward for our guys from a standpoint of how they competed. I thought we competed really hard and I thought our defense stepped up, given how talented Minnesota is offensively."
Spartan goaltender Jake Hildebrand had a season-high 44 saves, just three short of his career best.
"It was a really good game. We just have to move forward from this and keep working hard," said Hildebrand.
The Spartans started strong, outshooting Minnesota, 7-1, just 4:30 into the game. Both teams created scoring chances as the period continued, but it was the Gophers that got on the board with a late goal. Taylor Cammarata took a cross-crease pass from Jake Bischoff with just 1:24 to play in the period to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.
The Spartans didn't take much time to bounce back from the late first-period goal as Villiam Haag and Mackenzie MacEachern teamed up to tie the game just 1:02 into the second period. The play started when Minnesota's Mike Reilly coughed up the puck to Haag at the left point inside the MSU zone. Haag broke loose with the puck through the neutral zone and pushed it ahead to MacEachern, who fended off a pair of backcheckers and beat Gopher goaltender Adam Wilcox with a backhand.
Minnesota got the better of the Spartans following the goal, finishing with a 15-4 advantage in shots on goal in the period.
Great penalty killing by Joe Cox, Thomas Ebbing, John Draeger, RJ Boyd kept the game scoreless as the four were on the ice for an entire Gopher power play toward the end of the period. Another Spartan penalty in the final minute of the second period carried over to the third, where Minnesota got a fortuitous bounce near the end of the power play to take a 2-1 lead 51 seconds into the frame. Justin Kloos fired the puck on goal from the left side where it bounced off the leg of Jake Chelios and past Hildebrand.
Michigan State fought back though and with 14:04 to play Haag got a piece of a Lee Reimer shot, deflecting the puck past Wilcox to knot the game. Greg Wolfe raced down the right side and gave the puck to Reimer, who fired a shot toward the net where Haag just got just enough of the puck on the left side of the crease to push it across the goal line for his fourth goal of the season.
"I liked the poise we showed both on the bench and on the ice after Minnesota's second goal," said Anastos. "We kept talking about attacking and getting people to the net. Haag went to the net and was rewarded."
Minnesota outshot MSU, 12-10, in the final period and the Gophers' best chance to untie the game came in the final minutes when Kyle Rau rang a shot of the right post.
The scoreless five-minute overtime session forced a shootout and only the first shooter, Mike Ferrantino, was successful. Hildebrand stopped all three Gophers he faced, giving MSU the shootout win.
While the game counts as a tie in the overall standings, Michigan State gets credit for an overtime win in the Big Ten standings.
Minnesota finished the game 1-for-3 on the power play, while MSU was scoreless on its only opportunity.
The Gophers' 46 shots were the most by a Spartan opponent this season.
The two teams will complete the weekend set tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Munn.