Spartans’ Season Ends in Big Ten Tournament

Michigan State University
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ANN ARBOR – The Michigan State hockey team’s 2019-20 season came to an end on Saturday with a 3-0 loss to Michigan in game two of the best-of-three Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal series at Yost Ice Arena. The Wolverines broke a 0-0 tie with two goals in the second period and added an empty-netter in the final minute.

“It was another tough one. I thought through the whole game we battled and did a lot of good things,” MSU head coach Danton Cole said. “We needed a couple bounces and weren’t able to get them and they made a couple plays.

“I’m not disappointed in our effort at all, or anything we did. We just needed to score a couple goals. It’s a great bunch of guys in there and they’ve done a great job.”

Michigan made it 1-0 just over five minutes into the second period on a power-play goal by Will Lockwood. Defenseman Nick Blankenburg’s shot from the middle of the point got through a screen and off the stick of Lockwood in front of goaltender John Lethemon.

Johnny Beecher pushed the UM lead to 2-0 with 1:32 to go in the second when he carried the puck into the MSU zone, curled around the net and let go a low wrister from the right circle that found the back of the net.

The Spartans had a trio of power-play chances in the game and a handful of opportunities in the slot, but could never solve goaltender Strauss Mann, who made 20 saves.

An empty-net goal with 47 seconds to go made it 3-0.

The Spartans increased their win total for the third consecutive year under Cole, ending the season with a 15-19-2 record. Saturday’s game was the last for the Spartans’ nine seniors.

“They did a great job,” Cole said. “They worked and they wanted to a part of this thing moving forward and look at their body of work from their freshman year to their senior year. It’s been a real positive thing, but not just wins and losses but culturally they’ve done a nice job and those seniors have to do those things. I’m real proud of them. They’re done playing hockey for Michigan State, but they’re not done being Spartans.”