EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – After falling to Air Force in overtime, 3-2, in Friday’s season-opener, the Michigan State hockey team was looking to right the ship and get its first win of the season. And its first win in front of the home fans in nearly 600 days.
The Spartans made sure they wasted no time getting out to an early lead on Saturday.
With 11:51 on the clock, Northern Michigan transfer Griffin Loughran netted his first goal as a Spartan to give MSU then early 1-0 lead. Then, not even two minutes later, Loughran took advantage of a loose puck in front of the net and score goal No. 2 in the first period.
Those two goals would be the difference as the Spartans would explode for five goals and take down Air Force, 5-1, for their first win of the season.
“Obviously, very exciting,” Loughran said after the game. “Two big goals and then the team rallied behind, and stuck to our game and we were able to get the win.”
“Our goal was that hey, it’s a 60-minute game, and mentally you have to be on that, we can’t waiver, let’s follow up with some good shifts. One line has a good shift, and the next line has a good shift and before you know it you put together a pretty good period,” MSU hockey coach Danton Cole said.
When MSU took a 2-0 lead in the first, Air Force cut the lead in half with a goal from Luke Rowe, 12:12 into the first.
Things stayed 2-1, up until Michigan State netted its third power-play goal of the game. Mitchell Lewandowski was in the right place at the right time and scored his second goal of the season in the second period.
Cole said a key to those power-play goals was “moving pucks quick, and then finding lanes. I think David Gucciardi did a good job with that one group and just kept creating and zipping it down and then all of a sudden that group has got two goals. And then Dennis’ power-play got out there and it was contagious.”
As a captain this year, Dennis Cesana sent a message to his teammates following Friday’s loss and the fellas answered the call.
“After the last game, we just told the guys to look in the mirror and what kind of team do we want to be. Do we want to be the team like last year, where we’re kind of struggling back and forth? Or do we want to be a new team and come out, and take control of the game, and show them what kind of team we are,” Cesana said. “I think we came out hard with the right mindset today, playing as a group of five, and it really worked out.”