Michigan native Brendan Kearney celebrates his second-period goal for the Buckeyes. (Photo by Michael Caples/MiHockey)

Buckeyes top Spartans in Big Ten Tournament opener

Michigan native Brendan Kearney celebrates his second-period goal for the Buckeyes. (Photo by Michael Caples/MiHockey)

By @MichaelCaples – 

DETROIT – After falling behind early, the Spartans stormed back to take a 3-2 lead in the first period.

One-goal leads are hard to sit on for 40 minutes.

Northville native Brendan Kearney tied the game up for the Buckeyes in the second period, and then Ohio State lit the lamp three times in the third, as they coasted to a 6-3 win over Michigan State in the first game of the Big Ten Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament at Joe Louis Arena.

The loss brings the Spartans’ season to a close, while OSU advances to the Big Ten semifinals.

“Very disappointed with the season, yep,” MSU coach Tom Anastos said after the game. “Disappointing end to it for sure, but it was a disappointing season.

“I knew coming into the season that we were introducing a lot of new to the team, that a lot of freshmen would play key roles, playing a lot of freshmen on defense. I knew we had a huge question mark in goal, so those are things that we had to get better, had to overcome during the course of the season. Didn’t get good enough results. Certainly our league is very tough. It’s tough to win in our league. A lot of good teams in our league. We had a very tough schedule.

“But in the end, no, I’m disappointed with the season and I’m disappointed with how it ended today.”

Photos by Andrew Knapik/MiHockey

MSU’s season ends with a 7-23-4 record.

David Gust scored two goals for the Buckeyes, while Mason Jobst, Nick Schilkey (Marysville), Kearney, and Tanner Laczynski also found the back of the net.

Ed Minney allowed all six goals for the Spartans while making 21 saves in the contest.

Villiam Haag, Dylan Pavelek and Sam Saliba scored for the Spartans – all of the goals came in a span of nearly six minutes in the middle of the first period.

Now, MSU looks to the future after a disappointing 2016-17 season. The one positive, perhaps, is that the team played 10 true freshmen and one redshirt freshman (Jerad Rosburg) this season, and many have signs of promise moving forward.

“I liked [the freshmen group] a lot,” Anastos said. “Very good group. I like the skill. I liked the hockey intellect, loved the work habits. Real good personality on the team. Good chemistry on our team altogether. Introducing 10 new guys to the mix, I thought our upperclassmen did a terrific job of embracing guys right from the beginning.

“So all of those things, in spite of the challenges of the season, you’d think as challenging as the season was from a won-lost perspective, you’d say, geez, it’s been a long season. I haven’t seen it that way. I’m looking coming into the game tonight and geez, where did the season go, even though it’s been very challenging and there’s been a lot of sleepless nights. But because of the kind of kids we have, it’s a very, very good group to work with, and I think that class over time will really prove out to show the level of play that they’ll be capable of.”

MiHockey Staff

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