By @MichaelCaples –
ANN ARBOR – Chris Knudson played in his first game of the 2016-17 season Friday night in Ann Arbor.
He sure did make it count.
The senior forward – a healthy scratch for most of the season – scored his first career goal in the middle stages of the second period in his Michigan State Spartans’ game against the Michigan Wolverines.
Turned out to be a big one.
Knudson’s goal gave Michigan State a 2-0 lead, putting some extra distance between the Wolverines and Sam Saliba’s first-period goal for the Spartans. Bloomfield Hills native Connor Wood also scored for Michigan State, and they picked up their first victory in 10 tries – against their biggest rival on the road.
The Spartans’ victory – with junior goaltender Ed Minney recording his first career shutout between the pipes – was Michigan State’s first Big Ten victory of the season, and first NCAA victory since they beat North Dakoota on the road Nov. 25.
“Unlikely heroes, yeah,” MSU coach Tom Anastos said after the game. “We’ll take any hero. Any hero is a good hero. I thought it started in goal; I thought Minney came up big when he needed to come up big, especially early in the one power play they had. I thought he was a real good penalty-killer for us tonight, and it was nice to see him get his first shutout.
“…Chris Knudson and that line, with Connor Wood, those guys had a really good night for us. Added a lot of depth of energy. I’d say Knutter’s goal was a real inspiration for his teammates. We were hoping, maybe not expecting a goal, but hoping that by putting him in the line-up it may add a little inspiration.”
The Wolverines get a rematch tomorrow night in East Lansing; puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Munn Ice Arena.
“We’ve been trying to change our Friday effort and result, and obviously we didn’t,” said UM coach Red Berenson. “We gave up a power-play goal in the first period, a goal that is preventable, and then the second period they go around our ‘D’ and the guy is wide open in front of the net. That’s the first goal of his career. It’s not like these are great plays, they’re just hard working players and we’re not playing well enough without the puck and we’re not finishing our chances. We missed two open nets, and the puck wasn’t going in for us.
“I can just tell you that we have to be better tomorrow night or it’s going to be a tough weekend.”