Neil’s notebook: lack of finish makes the difference at Lowell
By Neil Koepke, MSUSpartans.com Team Editor
UMass Lowell was opportunistic and had a good finishing touch around the net.
Michigan State also had a few opportunities, but it didn’t have the finishing touches around the net.
The River Hawks scored two goals in 2 minutes and 3 seconds early in the second period to open a close game and beat the Spartans 4-0 on Saturday night at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Massachusetts.
MSU, who had won the special teams battle in their last four games, allowed one power-play goal, one shorthanded goal and a 0-for-6 power-play goal.
It was that kind of night for the Spartans (3-2-1), who saw their unbeaten finish in four games. The weekend began when MSU failed to maintain a 2-1 lead at the end of the third period of Friday’s series opener and ended in a 2-2 tie. out of conference.
The Spartans fired 27 shots at UML sophomore goalie Henry Welsch but couldn’t find a way to get past him.
“They were definitely opportunistic in some situations. We had (shots) shaken around the net and we just couldn’t do it,” said the MSU coach. Danton Cole noted. “We had a few hits that couldn’t find their way.”
In some ways, Cole believed his team performed better in Saturday’s loss than Friday’s deadlock.
“We skated better and burst better, moved the puck and did some great things, but (the shots) didn’t work,” he said. On the other hand, theirs come in. ”
The two quick goals in the second half doomed the Spartans, and the way each was scored made Cole and his team very unhappy.
Right after MSU skated on a 5-on-3 power play by the River Hawks, Lucas Condotta defeated goalie Spartan Pierce charleson at 4:24 to give UML a 2-0 lead. Two minutes later, Nik Armstrong-Kingkade scored on the breakaway for a shorthanded goal and a three-goal lead.
“In the second period, a lot of good things happened and we had two situations where the referees got in the way of a good hockey game,” said Cole. “Right after killing the 5-on-3, (defender) David Gucciardi tripped at the blue line. It’s right in the middle of the ice and their guy takes his foot out and trips him up, and that’s why they get the heist (to score).
“Then we check the other one and the referee goes down and takes out one of our guys as they come down on the ice, and that turns into a breakaway for them.
“The guys played hard, and I don’t know if that would have made a difference, but you can’t create two things from nothing.
“It was one of those games where a strange thing happened.”
The River Hawks took a 1-0 lead over Carl Berglund’s power-play goal at 8:50 of the opening period. Armstrong-Kingkade scored his second goal of the game to close the score at 8:44 of the third period.
Michigan State played without a fifth-year forward and top scorer on Saturday Mitchell lewandowski, who got caught in Friday’s game. First-year student Tanner kelly took Lewandowski’s place on the left wing with center Kristof Papp and right wing Jeremy davidson.
By securing his first career shutout in his 14e match, UML goalkeeper Welsch made some big saves on Davidson, Christian Krygier and Eric Middendorf.
Charleson, who suffered his first loss of the season, made 27 saves.
“The guys kept fighting and doing good things, and even when it was 4-0 we kept pushing and getting shots,” Cole said. “We’re going to eliminate that. There’s not much you can do against the referees. You keep playing hard and hopefully we’ve learned some good lessons tonight.
“We came here against a good hockey team. They played hard, they’re deep and they’re like a Big Ten team. “
The Spartans will take a break from their non-conference opponents for the next two weeks and start playing Big Ten. They will face Ohio State on Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. at Value City Arena in Columbus. Then it’s a home series with Michigan – November 5 at Yost Arena in Ann Arbor and November 6 at Munn Arena in East Lansing.
“Last night we had a great opportunity to come here and have a good start to the weekend. You have to finish these matches, ”Cole said. “Then you have a chance to sweep the next night. If it doesn’t turn out like that, it’s not so bad (with a split).
“If you let one escape, it will come back and bite you sometimes. You have to learn these things and move on.”
LOSS OF SPECIAL TEAMS: Michigan state played five games without losing the special teams battle, but ended up on Saturday night. The Spartans had killed 14 consecutive power plays of their opponents before UMass Lowell scored with the power play in the first period.
The River Hawks went 1-for-4 on the power play while the Spartans didn’t score with six power play chances, including three in the third period.
MSU lost the special teams duel in their opener of the season when the Air Force scored on one of two power plays and the Spartans failed to score on one occasion.
Michigan State then held an advantage in Game 2 against the Air Force, going 3 for 6 on the power play, with the Falcons going 0 for 5. The Spartans then held Miami scoreless on four power play. their first game of the series and two in the second game. Meanwhile, MSU was 1-for-3 in Game 1 of the series and had no power play in Game 2.
In the Spartans’ 2-2 draw on Friday at UMass Lowell, they converted one of four power play chances while the River Hawks did not score any four goals.
Michigan State penalty killers gain plenty of experience surviving opponents’ 5v3 power plays and five-minute power plays.
They skated a 5-on-3 Friday and another Saturday. In one game against Air Force and one against Miami, MSU survived major penalties of five minutes.
“You don’t want to train so much, but the guys did a great job. ” Danton Cole noted.
Michigan State had its own five-minute power play advantage in the 5-1 victory over Air Force and scored one goal – by Griffin loughran.
KELLY CONGRATULATIONS: first year striker Tanner kelly progressed in the roster on Saturday, taking that of Mitchell Lewandowski place on the left wing with Kristof Papp and Jeremy davidson. Lewandowski was injured in the series opener on Friday.
Coach Danton Cole liked what he saw of the 5-10, 165-pound San Diego, who played minor hockey in the Detroit metro area for several seasons with the Little Caesars program before playing two seasons with US Hockey’s Muskegon League.
“Tanner was exceptional. He had a lot of energy and he was on the puck, said Cole. He’s the kind of player he’s going to be. When you get these opportunities, you have to take advantage of them. He did a great job. I would like him to continue playing that way.
“It’s tough as a freshman. You kind of have to work on certain things and he will. It’s great to see but it’s not surprising.”
IN THE BIG TEN: No.1 Michigan needed extra time to beat Western Michigan, 3-2, on Saturday at Kalamazoo. The No.17 Broncos (3-1) recovered from a 2-0 deficit to tie in the second period, but Nick Blankenburg’s goal at 2:22 of overtime gave the Wolverines (5-1 ) victory and division of the series. WMU beat UM, 5-2, on Friday in Ann Arbor.
Minnesota’s No.4 was swept away by Minnesota’s No.5 Duluth, with the Bulldogs holding on for a 2-1 victory on Saturday at Duluth. UMD (5-1) won the series opener, 5-3, Saturday in Minneapolis.
Wisconsin also suffered two losses this weekend. The St. Cloud State No. 3 completed a Badgers sweep (2-4) with a 4-1 win on Saturday at St. Cloud. The Huskies (6-2) won 5-1 on Friday.
On Thursday and Friday, Penn State (5-2) swept Niagara, 4-0, 6-2, while Notre Dame (4-1) parted ways with RIT – losing 3-2 in overtime in Game 1 and winning 6-0 in the series finale.
Next weekend in the Big Ten, besides the MSU at Ohio State series, Michigan hosts Wisconsin Thursday and Friday and Notre Dame (4-1) is in Minnesota for a Friday-Saturday series.
Penn State will play a non-conference game against North Dakota on Saturday in Nashville at Bridgestone Arena, home of the NHL’s Nashville Predators.