MARQUETTE – The Michigan State hockey team’s bid to sweep Northern Michigan in the season-opening series fell short on Sunday as the Wildcats held off the Spartans, 2-0. Northern Michigan scored on the power play with 7:32 to play in the first period and the goal stood as the game-winner.
“In the first period we spent too much time feeling our way around the game and were back on our heels,” MSU head coach Danton Cole said. “I thought we defended fairly well and we killed off most of that penalty off where they scored the game-winning goal, so that was unfortunate. Sometimes you have to battle through it.
“I didn’t like our energy, we finally got it going, but sometimes it’s too late when you get behind and they did a good job of blocking shots and being really desperate.”
The lone goal of the first 58 minutes of the game came with under 10 seconds remaining on a Wildcat power play. Griffin Loughran was able to slip open and redirected a pass from Philip Beaulieu past Spartan goaltender Drew DeRidder.
The Spartans had limited chances but nearly tied the game with just under four minutes left in the second period. MSU got the puck out of its zone and as it trickled up ice, Austin Kamer raced ahead and dove to knock it to Brody Stevens. Unfortunately, the puck never settled and Stevens’ shot went high.
An odd-man rush for MSU led to another chance with just under 12 minutes to go in third. Tommy Apap eventually got the puck in close and got a backhander under the pad of Hawthorne and into the net. But Apap was knocked into Hawthorne on the play, dislodging the net and it was ruled no goal on the ice. The officials reviewed the play and confirmed the call on the ice.
As the Spartans were pressing late, the puck escaped the NMU zone and Vincent de May’s shot from near the blueline got past DeRidder to make it 2-0 with two minutes remaining.
“That was unfortunate for Drew because he played very well and put us in a position to win,” Cole said.
DeRidder finished with 24 saves, several of which came early on to keep the Spartans’ deficit at just a goal.
The Spartans (1-1) will be at home on Friday, Oct 18 to host the USNTDP U-18 team in an exhibition at 7 p.m. at Munn Ice Arena.