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Neils Notebook: Spartans bordered by Minnesota at Bizarre Game :: State of Michigan :: Official Site of Athletics

Jan. 19, 2018

By Neil Koepke
Staff Writer of MSUSpartans.com

EAST LANSING – It was one of the most exciting games that Michigan State has played all season.

And one of the most frustrating.

And without a doubt, the strangest game that the Spartans have played this season and probably in several seasons.

In a game that featured three weak goals, two quiet goals in far shots, two major penalties and expulsion checks from behind, three consecutive goals by each team and a 4-1 advantage eliminated, Minnesota emerged with a 5 -4 win on Thursday night at Munn Arena.

The Gophers broke a 4-4 tie with 2:48 left in the third period with Tyler Sheehy's goal from 30 feet in the slot, and Minnesota held on to win the Big Ten series starter in front of 5,593 fans.

"It's not the way (Minnesota coach) Don (Lucia) or I would prepare a hockey game", said MSU trainer, Danton Cole.

"It was pretty strange," said senior spartan defender Carson Gatt. "It's not exactly how you prepare it, but sometimes those games happen."

The Spartans (9-15-1 in general, 3-11-1-1 Big Ten) lost 4-1 in the seven minutes of the second period as Minnesota (14-12-1, 5-9-1- 1) scored three goals in 5 minutes and 7 seconds, one in the power game and two shorthanded in the same power game as MSU.

Then, at 7:35 of the interim period, the MSU defender, Jerad Rosburg, was sanctioned with a penalty of more than 5 minutes and a bad behavior of the game to control from behind. Minnesota could have opened the game with a power goal or two.

Instead, Michigan State scored short – by Taro Hirose, created by defender Tommy Miller – who reduced his deficit to 4-2. Hirose scored again six minutes later and suddenly the game had a different appearance.

The Spartans' knotted goal added to the madness of the game when defender Butrus Ghafari scored his first collegiate goal in a bizarre rebound after shooting the Minnesota area with a stride on the red line, length of the correct tables.

The puck hit the boards, crashed into the net, hit the left-hand panel of goalkeeper Eric Schierhorn and found his way to the right corner of the net at 11:57.

It was the second goal of the night. The Gophers tied the game 1-1 at 13:51 of the first period when forward Jack Ramsey threw the puck into the net from about six feet off the blue line, just in front of the MSU bench. The puck bounced in front of goalkeeper John Lethemon, took a strange bounce to his right and went into the net.

With the game stalled, 4-4, and the Spartans struggling to get a great triumph to come, the Gophers wrote a different script. Sheehy got possession near the ice center of a turnover, found a room in the middle and fired the disk in the lower right corner at 17:12 to win it for the visitors.

"It's tough, a 4-1 loss and a 4-4 battle, that stings," said Gatt. "Right now I'm lost because of the words."

MSU had not waived a shorthanded goal all season long until late in the second period last Saturday in Wisconsin. It gave the Badgers a 2-1 lead and that ignited a 5-2 victory.

On Thursday, Minnesota went up 2-1 on Steve Johnson's Power Johnson goal with a shot from the center point that found the left corner of the net 1:48 of the second period.

Sheehy then scored short of 2 to 1 at 4:15, and Tommy Novak, established by Sheehy, crossed on a break to beat Lethemon at 6:55 to put the mounts, 4-1.

A fluke goal and not taking over the puck in the power play was a difficult night for the Spartans, who prevented the game from getting out of hand and then joined to tie it.

"I do not care if other teams give up on goals like that, we can not abandon goals like that," Cole said, "that's not going to work for us." Nor can we give up two goals. shorts

"These are two games in a row where our power game, for all practical purposes, cost us the opportunity to win the hockey game, and it is a power game that has won us games. -power-play but we can not get annotations.

"We do not have the ability to have certain areas of our game that are not good & # 39; & # 39 ;.

The Spartans will try to recover and win a split series when they face the Gophers at 8 p.m. Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York as part of the third annual "Super Saturday – College Hoops and Hockey" undercard at MSG. Minnesota and Ohio State start the day with a men's basketball at noon.

MSU and Minnesota will practice at Munn Arena on Friday morning and then fly to New York for the first game of each program at Madison Square Garden.

Meanwhile, despite the obvious negative on Thursday for the Spartans, there were some bright spots. MSU made a great comeback, Hirose had two goals and one assist, Mitchell Lewandowski had one goal, scoring in his fourth consecutive game for his 15th of the season, and Miller had three assists.

"I liked the way we came back, the way we fought, I liked the way we stayed together, those are good things and we can build on that," Cole said. But we're going to have to be much better for a lot more of Saturday's game. "

The Michigan state power game was out of sync from the start and was rarely threatened during two power plays, the second of which lasted five minutes and only produced two shots on goal. But the Gophers were aggressive and rarely allowed the Spartans to settle down.

"They pressed a lot and I give them credit, they did a good job killing, but I do not think our guys worked hard without the record," Cole said. "I do not think we've finished our routes, something we talked about all the time, and we did not move the record fast enough, our guys were holding it, holding it in. That's not the way we execute our power play.

"We'll put it back in order and we'll fix it for Saturday."

Gatt said the Spartans' power units expected Minnesota to attack them hard, but they did not move fast enough to deny the pressure.

"We've seen that in Ohio State and Wisconsin and that helps us do a better job, we have to move the record against the pressure and we did not do it tonight," he said. They attacked immediately in our next place. "And some guys flew (out of the defensive zone) and scored some careless goals.Our power play should score goals and not give them up & # 39; & # 39;

Gatt liked the "determination and determination" of his team after falling behind 4-1 to continue eliminating the deficit and eventually tie the game.

"You saw Millsie (Tommy Miller) for 45 seconds or a minute, stepped forward and made a great play, and Taro (Hirose) could have lagged behind and felt he was tired and there was not much left in the tank, & # 39; & # 39; Gatt said. "But he goes straight to the (left post) and (takes a pass from Miller) puts it, puts it 4-2 and we get the impetus."

Hirose's goal at 8:12 of the second period and the four-minute skating over the Gopher 5-minute power game gave the Spartans some life. And when Hirose scored again at 2:27, the game that seemed lost was suddenly there to take.

"I think we started pretty well with that early goal, but I think his goal in the lucky rebound took our breath away, and they took it for a while in the second period," Hirose said. "But he showed that we can go back and score when we need it."

Hirose's neglected goal was the catalyst for the return.

"Pat (Khodorenko) tied the record on the wall, Millsie opened it and I saw that we had a 2-on-1 and we skated as hard as we could and his boy stopped a bit. I tried to skate towards the publication (left ) and Millsie put it on my cane & # 39; & # 39;

In his second goal, Hirose beat Schierhorn from the inside edge of the right circle with a quick blow to the wrist.

"(Khodorenko) made a good play by passing (the slot) and gave me some space, and I was looking for Lewie (Lewandowsk) but they took him and gave me more space and I just walked in. That. & # 39; & # 39;

Lethemon made 34 saves while Schierhorn stopped 18 shots, and only three in the second period.

Cole thought his team was too defensive in the first period that Minnesota outscored the Spartans, 16-9.

"Even when I was 1-1 in the first period, I thought we were accepting that we will play defensively, and we are not bad at that," Cole said. "But you can not just defend and defend." And I think that mentality moved to the power game. We were not attacking and supporting discs.

"We were watching a guy work, and suddenly, we were down 4-1."

But three consecutive goals, including the strangest of the season by Ghafari, linked him and established a dramatic ending that the Spartans finished incorrectly.

TOUGH NIGHT FOR GOALIES: Friday's game will not be memorable for opposing goalkeepers: John Lethemon of MSU and Eric Schierhorn of Minnesota.

Each allowed a goal of flip, a crazy rebound and each would like a couple of hits that made their way into the network.

Still, both Lethemon and Schierhorn made some solid saves during the stretches where the opposition had some quality opportunities.

"I think John has earned the right to fight through something like that, he did a very good job of keeping the fort for a good lonely time," said MSU coach Danton. Cole. "You have to go through those things. Sometimes, you make a mistake and you have to go back to the right side of things.

"Fortunately, he will get something out of this game and with luck, the team will also do it".

FIRST FOR GHAFARI: Second-year student Butrus Ghafari is known as a physical, home-based defender who had not scored a goal in 38 career MSU games. But the 5-foot-11, 188-pound West Bloomfield broke the streak on Thursday in a play he was not even shooting on the net in the middle of the third period and MSU was down 4-3.

While skating on the red line along the right side of the boards, he saw Taro Hirose running towards the Gophers area, so he fired the disc towards the right corner. Then strange things happened.

The disc came off the boards to the Minnesota network. Schierhorn seemed to be tight against the right post, but the puck slid into the crease and sneaked by Schierhorn and slid over the goal line.

Suddenly, the game tied 4-4 at 11:57.

"This is how I scored my first USHL goal, Off the boards, it's a pattern," Ghafari said.

"I saw Taro running towards (the Gophers area) and he scored, so I tried to get him out of the final boards, he took some rebounds and he left Schierhorn and came in".

Ghafari did not even see the disk enter the network.

"I turned to go to the bank and Taro told me he came in," he said. "It was definitely a crazy game."

The Spartans were impressed with Minnesota's speed, ability and ability to be dangerously offensive.

"They are a very skilled team, they have men who can shoot, score and skate," Ghafari said. "And when we cut segments, they could take advantage.

"We have to play 60 full (minutes) and not chase from behind if we want to win."

MILLER EXCELS: First-year defender Tommy Miller had the best game of his young Spartan career with three assists, three blocks and a solid game in both zones.

Known as a strong supporter of home life, Miller received three assists for Thursday's game. But he scored two goals directly, Mitchell Lewandowski in the first period and Taro Hirose in the second, and earned Hirose's second goal in the second period.

"He was phenomenal, he contributed on the offensive side and from a defensive perspective," defensive partner Carson Gatt said. "We have some good forwards that we tried to get the record for and he made a lot of plays. good and showed on the scoreboard. "

In the first goal of MSU, Miller got the disc at the right point and, with a maze of players in front of the net, deliberately fired the disc to the right of the goal, hoping for a good rebound.

He got it. Caromed directly into the fold, where goalkeeper Eric Shierhorn could not divert him from danger. The puck bounced around the fold and Lewandowski shot it to the right corner at 6:47 for his 15th goal of the season, team leader.

"He played well, his gaps were good," coach Danton Cole said of Miller, who will not turn 19 until the beginning of March. "He took a step forward and made some plays we needed, and he kept records, it was good tonight and he was rewarded."

Strangely, the defensive body of the Spartans, who do not have many points, actually surpassed the KHL line of Khodorenko, Taro Hirose and Mitchell Lewandowski.

Miller had three assists, Zach Osburn had two assists and Butrus Ghafari had one goal for six total points. The KHL line produced five points: Hirose had three with two goals and one assist, Lewandowski had a goal and Khodorenko contributed an assist. "

Gatt is the highest scoring defender of MSU with two goals and 11 assists for 13 points.

IN THE GREAT TEN: On Friday, the Wisconsin number 18 heads for the road to face the No. 1 Notre Dame in South Bend. The Badgers and Irish complete the series on Sunday afternoon at the United Center in Chicago.

No. 20 Michigan, which comes sweeping in Minnesota, hosts the No. 13 Penn State on Friday and Saturday. Ohio State has a free weekend.

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