EAST LANSING – The Michigan State hockey team completed a two-game sweep of Michigan on Saturday with a 3-0 shutout in front of a sellout crowd of 6,552 at Munn Ice Arena. John Lethemon made 35 saves for his second shutout in the last four games, while Josh Nodler (game-winner), Austin Kamer and Tommy Apap scored for Michigan State (5-5, 3-1 Big Ten).
“I liked a lot of things tonight but probably the most important for us tonight was the battle and the resiliency,” head coach Danton Cole said. “There were a lot of times we had to answer the battle - that was killing penalties or blocking shot.”
It took less than two minutes into the game for the Spartans to score, in what proved to be the only goal they would need. After a shot off the end boards, Logan Lambdin took the puck in the right circle and got it to Tommy Miller at the right point. Miller released a low snap shot that Nodler got a stick on and redirected past goaltender Strauss Mann into the far corner of the net at the 1:59 mark.
Michigan’s best chances of the game came early in the second as it kept puck in the MSU end for much of the start of the period, but Lethemon denied every UM opportunity to keep it a one-goal game.
The Spartans took advantage of Lethemon’s stops and upped their lead to 2-0 with 8:22 left in the second. With the faceoff in the left circle in the UM zone, Adam Goodsir won the draw and Kamer picked it up and snapped it past Mann from the high slot for his first goal of the season.
Less than two minutes later, pressure by the Spartans resulted in a loose puck in front that Apap snapped under the bar to make it 3-0. A rush by Nicolas Müller and Jagger Joshua led to a battle in the low slot and Apap was able to collect the puck off the top of the crease and put it into the net for his third goal of the year.
“Michigan had a little bit going for them in the second when it was 1-0,” Cole said. “We had to hunker down and get our game back, but I liked the way the guys answered. That’s something we take a lot of pride in here, just being resilient and working hard. It was good to get out on the right side of it, and I was really proud of the way the guys played, both nights.”
The Spartans extinguished a power play in each of the first two periods and then killed all three of Michigan’s chances on the man-advantage in the third period.
Lethemon stopped all 12 UM shots in the third period. Michigan outshot the Spartans 35-26 for the game.
“It’s definitely satisfying, obviously,” Lethemon said. “Beating Michigan is pretty cool to do twice. Also doing it Saturday night at home is pretty special. We just have to keep getting better every weekend.”
Michigan State’s sweep of Michigan (3-7-2, 0-5-1) was its first since November 2009.
“This was a great crowd,” Cole said. “We were a few hundred over sell-out. The students were awesome.”
The Spartans will host fourth-ranked Notre Dame next Friday and Saturday at Munn.