EAST LANSING – Trailing No. 16 Arizona State 3-1 in the third period, the 18th-ranked Michigan State hockey team rallied to tie the game, but Johnny Walker’s goal with 5:40 to play stood as the difference maker in a 4-3 ASU win. Tommy Apap, Patrick Khodorenko and Nicolas Müller scored for the Spartans (8-8-1).
“It was a good battle. They had the jump on us early and we got it going a little bit and realized how hard we were going to have to work,” MSU head coach Danton Cole said. “Unfortunately, it was 2-0 at that time. I liked the way the guys battled and regrouped.
“You’ve got to play 60 minutes hard you never know, and their guy makes a really nice play on the winning goal. There are lots of good things but there are lots of things we can do better. They beat us tonight, it is up to us to do better tomorrow.”
With ASU (9-4-2) leading 3-1, Khodorenko pulled the Spartans within a goal 4:59 into the third period with his team-leading ninth goal of the season. Mitchell Lewandowski left the puck for Khodorenko at the top of the ASU zone and he quickly snapped a shot off goaltender Evan Debrouwer. The puck bounced back out to Khodorenko, who made a move and then put it past the goaltender.
Less than five minutes later, Müller tied it up. Off a Spartan faceoff win in the neutral zone, Cole Krygier got the puck to Christian Krygier, who drove it into the ASU end. The puck caromed off the end boards and out to the low slot where a charging Müller got to it and shot it past Debrouwer.
The Spartans carried the play in the third period, outshooting the Sun Devils 16-8 in the final frame. Unfortunately for MSU, a redirect on a shot from the point with 5:40 to play put ASU back in front, 4-3. Jarrod Gourley snapped the puck from the left point and Walker was able to deflect the puck past John Lethemon.
The Spartans pulled Lethemon for the extra attacker with just over a minute to go but were unable to find the tying goal.
The Sun Devils took a 2-0 first-period lead on goals by PJ Marrocco (7:30 mark) and James Sanchez (16:40 mark).
The Spartans heavily outshot the Sun Devils early in the second, including by a 10-3 margin at one point. Eventually, MSU broke through with 8:41 to go in the middle period, courtesy of Apap.
Brody Stevens picked up the puck in the MSU end and carried it all the way into the Sun Devil zone before getting the puck to Dennis Cesana. Cesana let go a slap shot that Debrouwer initially stopped, but the puck trickled past him and Apap put it into an open net.
ASU quickly got the goal back to make it 3-1 as Jacob Wilson scored on a shot off a faceoff in the MSU end just 1:23 after Apap’s goal.
MSU finished with a 35-26 edge in shots on goal.
Both teams went goalless on the power play – ASU was 0-for-3 and MSU 0-for-2.
The Spartans and Sun Devils will meet again on Sunday at 5 p.m.