Spartan Hockey Falls To No. 12 Ohio State 4-2
Hondo S. Carpenter
Munn Ice Arena
East Lansing, MI
The once red-hot Michigan State hockey team has now lost four in a row and six of the last seven. Prior to the skid, Danton Cole had his team in position to win a Big Ten title, ranked and on the verge of an NCAA berth.
While not over, the Spartans being swept here at home to the Buckeyes, made so many dreams either dwindle away or on life support. Jeff Barnes, the terrific MSU SID has this release for us on the game tonight:
EAST LANSING – The Michigan State hockey team dropped its regular season home finale on Saturday at a sold-out Munn Ice Arena. No. 12 Ohio State scored three goals over the final 4:49, including an empty-netter, to erase the Spartan lead and win 4-2. Patrick Khodorenko scored and had an assist to lead MSU.
"It was a big-time game, they were able to make plays and we didn't," said MSU head coach Danton Cole. "But I thought our guys battled, did a lot of things really well, and even in the third."
MSU (14-17-1, 10-11-1-0) scored first as Khodorenko got his 16th of the season at 12:53 of the opening period. Sam Saliba was able to collect a loose puck behind the OSU and immediately backhand it back toward the crease. The puck hit an OSU defenseman's stick and jumped up in the air and Khodorenko batted it out of the air and into the net.
Ohio State (18-10-4, 11-8-3-1) evened the game on the only power play of the first period. Goaltender John Lethemon stopped Quinn Preston's initial attempt from below the right circle, but the rebound bounced down and he was able to slip it into the net with 3:50 to go in the stanza.
The Spartans, however, were able to take a lead to the locker room when Khodorenko set up Jagger Joshua with a perfect pass with 11 seconds to go in the period. Khodorenko intercepted an errant pass in the left circle in the OSU end and took the puck to the net. He pulled goaltender Tommy Nappier to the right left a perfect pass for Joshua, who put it home for his third goal of the year.
MSU outshot the Buckeyes, 13-9, in the second period and both teams had a power play chance in a scoreless second period.
The game-tying goal came off the stick of Jaedon Leslie with 4:49 left in the third period. Leslie shot the puck from the right corner, between the goal line and bottom of the circle, and it got between the pads of Lethemon and in the net.
A penalty gave OSU a power play just 15 seconds later and with 3:21 to go, Tanner Laczynski scored on a shot from the right circle to give the Buckeyes the lead for good.
"All of a sudden you're down 3-2 in a game that you were up 2-1 just a little bit before," said Cole. "Those are unfortunate things, but you know what, you've got to battle back and we'll get ourselves right."
With the MSU net empty for the extra attacker, the Spartans were unable to find the tying goal and Preston scored from his own end with a second left to make it 4-2.
OSU finished with a 41-31 edge in shots on goal.
Following the game, the Spartans nine seniors – Anthony Scarsella, Damian Chrcek, Sam Saliba, John Lethemon, Spencer Wright, Butrus Ghafari, Patrick Khodorenko, Jerad Rosburg, and Logan Lambdin - were honored with an on-ice ceremony.
"It's a tough senior night, but I think, later on, they'll look back and say these guys played like Spartans tonight, played hard and they'll have something positive to take out of it," said Cole.
Michigan State will complete the regular season schedule next weekend when it visits Notre Dame on Friday and Saturday.
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