Michigan State opened its season on Saturday night at North Dakota in the US Hockey Hall of Fame game, and fell to the top-ranked Fighting Sioux, 6-0, in front of 11,738 fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena. The Spartans outshot their hosts 23-22, but could not solve senior netminder Jean-Phillipe Lamoureaux, who finished with a 22-save shutout.
The homestanding Sioux appeared to take a 1-0 lead at the 7:05 mark, but the goal was disallowed due to a penalty; the Spartans were whistled for an infraction 36 seconds later, limiting each team's first power-play opportunity to under a minute. Chris Mueller was called for a hold at 9:50, giving the Sioux its first full two-minute man advantage. ND converted with just 12 seconds remaining, as T.J. Oshie took a eed from linemate Ryan Duncan and ripped a shot from the right face-off dot that beat netminder Jeff Lerg high, glove-side for a 1-0 lead.
Oshie was whistled for a five-minute major for checking from behind at 6:08, which is an automatic game misconduct - jettisoning one of NoDak's top forwards from the balance of the game. Abdelkader was whistled for his second penalty of the night at 15:10, putting the teams at four-on-four. At 16:28, Duncan flew up the left wing on a scoring chance, but his centering pass intended for Andrew Kozek went off the toe of Dustin Gazely's right skate at the bottom of the left circle, and the slight redirection found its way past Jeff Lerg for a 2-0 North Dakota lead, which the Sioux took into the first intermission.
The Sioux added to their lead with one goal in the middle frame, put on the board at 6:55. Taylor Chorney's slapshot from just inside the blueline rocketed off the endboards and out to the right side of Jeff Lerg, and an opportunistic Chris VandeVelde was there on the doorstep and swiped at the puck in midair, swatting it past the stick hand of the netminder.
Michigan State came out with a purpose in the third period, and had three good scoring chances in the opening 2:15 from Mike Ratchuk, Chris Mueller, and Joey Shean. However, momentum switched when North Dakota broke into the zone on a three-on-one, and freshman Matt Frattin wristed a shot from the left circle that beat Jeff Lerg five-hole. The Sioux added two more in the final four minutes for the final margin.
The Spartans will look to rebound next weekend in their home opener, hosting Colgate in a two-game set next Friday and Saturday at Munn Ice Arena. MSU will raise its National Championship banner in a pre-game ceremony on Friday night.
NOTES: MSU lost its first season opener in three seasons and falls to 38-26-3 in all-time openers ... The game was called by a four-man WCHA crew (two referees, two linesmen). The two teams combined for 11 first-period penalties (five minors for MSU, three minors, a major, and a game misconduct for UND), but just two in the second (both for MSU) and two in the third (one each) ... MSU was shut out in its season opener for the first time since Oct. 11, 2002, when the Spartans fell to Denver, 5-0, in the first round of the Maverick Stampede. That was Rick Comley's first game as head coach ...