EMPE, Arizona — The Michigan State hockey team dropped the first of a two-game series with Arizona State, 5-4, on Friday night at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe, Arizona. The Spartans (4-3) erased a 2-0 deficit in the second period with three straight goals to grab the lead, but with the game 3-3 going into the third period, ASU scored twice just over three minutes apart to reclaim the lead for good.
“You want to find some positives out of a game like this and we did,” MSU head coach Danton Cole said. “We found ourselves down 2-0 and it was kind of weird because it was a pretty even game and we battled back by the end of the period to get it to 3-3, which I thought was really good. We made two bad reads and they make two really good plays and we’re down 5-3, but we came back and that was a big goal by (David) Keefer to get it to 5-4, but we just couldn’t get the next one.
“Bottom line is we can’t give up five goals. We weren’t horrible defensively, but when we made mistakes they made good plays.”
With the game scoreless in the second period, Arizona State (8-3) started the six-goal stanza with two goals in a 42-second span. The first came in the closing seconds of a power play at the 6:11 mark. PJ Marrocco got control of a loose puck in the low slot and swept it past John Lethemon.
Steenn Pasichnuk made it 2-0 at 6:53 with a wrister from the high slot.
The Spartans’ push back started less than three minutes after ASU got its second goal as Jerad Rosburg cut the deficit in half with his first tally of the season. Following some hard work in the ASU zone, Dennis Cesana got the puck and threw it cross-ice to Rosburg at the left point, who let a shot go low through traffic and past goaltender Joey Daccord to make it 2-1.
Michigan State grabbed its first lead 3:36 later as Taro Hirose scored unassisted while 4-on-4. ASU gained control of the puck on the ensuing faceoff following the coincidental penalties, but a pressuring Hirose picked the puck from a Sun Devil defenseman and found himself all alone with Daccord. Hirose made a move and put the puck past Daccord from off the left post for his fifth goal of the season and a 3-2 MSU lead with 4:21 to go in the period.
The MSU lead lasted just 1:25 as Filips Buncis made it 3-3 with 2:56 to play in the second.
Arizona State reclaimed the lead with 10:53 to go in the third when Jordan Sandhu scored on a rebound off an odd-man rush.
ASU’s Brett Gruber pushed Sun Devil lead to 5-3 with 7:32 to play.
David Keefer pulled the Spartans within a goal with 5:54 to play, getting a loose puck in the low slot and firing it low past Daccord.
The Spartans pulled Lethemon for the extra attacker in the final 1:10, but couldn’t come up with the equalizing goal.
MSU was scoreless on the man-advantage for the first time this season, going 0-for-3. ASU went 1-for-3 on the power play.
ASU outshot the Spartans, 26-21.
The Spartans and Sun Devils will meet again on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.
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