Game Notes (11/5): Michigan State vs. Ferris State
Both teams came into tonight looking to climb back into the CCHA races. The intense, hard-fought game featured some great end-to-end action and some wide-open play.
The Spartans got the early jump on the Bulldogs. At the 2:21 mark, sophomore Zac Pearson was called for holding the stick, sending the Spartans on their first power play of the night. It didn’t take long before the Spartans cashed in. At the 2:51 mark, sophomore Drew Miller (ANA) got MSU on the board. It began with a good battle along the boards. The loose puck was eventually retrieved by MSU senior Jim Slater (ATL). Slayer then proceeded to flip the puck out to the right point but instead it was knocked to the sideboards by a Bulldogs defender’s stick. There to retrieve the loose was MSU junior Colton Fretter (ATL) coming in from the point position. Fretter proceeds to tap the puck back to Slater. Slater then drops the puck to Miller, who is coming in from the behind the net to the left of FSU senior goaltender Mike Brown. Miller, using Bulldogs freshman defenseman Adam Welch as a screen, proceeds to sweep the puck at the FSU net that beats Brown five-hole for the score. Slater and Fretter would draw the assists on Miller’s power play tally. Just 11 seconds later, senior Ash Goldie would add to MSU’s lead right off the draw. Freshman Bryan Lerg wins the draw back to Goldie, who is coming into the left face-off circle. He then launches a slapshot at the FSU net. The shot goes off of Brown’s glove then trickles in behind him for the score. Lerg would draw the lone assist on Goldie’s goal. From there, the Spartans would continue attacking the Bulldogs relentlessly, getting several good scoring opportunities. FSU was losing the territorial battles as well as getting outworked early in the game. At the 4:20 mark, senior Jeff Legue would get FSU on the board thanks to an outstanding individual effort. The play began behind the FSU net. FSU senior defenseman Matt York gets momentary possession along the backboards and dishes it over to freshman Matt Stefanishion. Stefanishion retrieves the puck from the left sideboards and feeds it up to a streaking Legue. Legue then gets into a foot race with MSU sophomore defenseman A. J. Thelen (MIN). However, Legue barely gets a step on Thelen. Just as he gets to the top of the right faceoff circle in the MSU zone, Legue cuts in, trying to get by Thelen. Legue does an outstanding job of using his hip to shield the puck and keep Thelen at bay, preventing the defenseman from stripping him of the puck. Legue then slips the puck past MSU sophomore goaltender Dominic Vicari just inside the far post for the score. Stefanishion and York drew the assists on Legue’s goal, cutting MSU’s lead in half. The Bulldogs start coming to life and the intensity of the game begins to pick up after Legue’s goal. However, the feeling would be short-lived for FSU as junior David Booth (FLA) would restore MSU’s two-goal lead on an absolutely beautiful goal. It begins with a shot block in the MSU zone by imposing freshman defenseman Daniel Vukovic. Freshman Jim MacKenzie (OTT) is there to pick up the loose puck. He proceeds to flip it out to Booth, parked in the neutral zone. On an 2-on-2 going toward the FSU net, Booth does a nice job of getting around FSU junior Matt Rudkowski, who is back helping out on defense. Booth, then waited until Brown went down before he snapped a shot top-shelf for the goal. In the process of waiting for Brown to commit, Booth’s little “stutter” move also froze Rudkowski. MacKenzie would draw the lone assist. The score was 3-1 Spartans. The FSU goaltender was shaky for much of the opening period but still managed to keep his team in the game. In the midway part of the period, the Spartans got into some penalty trouble. However, they were quite effective, for the most part, of killing off FSU’s man advantages. At the 15:20 mark, freshman Peder Skinner would be called off for a hook, giving the Bulldogs another chance at chipping away at MSU’s lead. This time, they’d cash in and almost immediately too. Just three seconds into the power play at the 15:23 mark, Stefanishion tallied FSU’s second goal of the night. It started with a faceoff win by sophomore Mark Bomersback. Stefanishion, being Johnny-on-the-spot, picks up the loose puck and launches a low, quick shot that beats Vicari five-hole for the score. Bomersback drew the lone assist, cutting the Spartans lead to 3-2. For the remainder of the period, the Spartans fought hard to restore their two-goal lead once again. Brown, who finally settled down in goal, began making some crucial stops to keep the Bulldogs in the game.
The start of the second period saw the Bulldogs come out with much more jump than they began the game with. They did a nice job of breaking up the Spartans’ passes and not allowing them to set up plays. As the period progressed, the Spartans got into penalty trouble. This has been the worst period for MSU thus far this season and it looked like it wasn’t going to change tonight. Were it not for some stellar saves by Vicari, the Bulldogs could’ve tied or even taken over the lead, but instead FSU was kept off the board. The Spartans were also guilty of allowing several odd-man chances as well. Fortunately for them, no goals came as a result of them. As the period winds down, there are few penalties being assessed, which allowed the teams to open up the game. The Spartans took full advantage of it as well. At the 19:29 mark, sophomore defenseman Ethan Graham would extend the Spartan’ lead. It began deep in the MSU zone. Vicari makes a long pass up to Fretter in the neutral zone. Fretter then makes a nice move to get around FSU freshman defenseman Adam Welch. When Fretter gets to the slot area, he drops the puck to freshman Chris Mueller, who then finds Graham coming into the play late. Graham then gets the feed from Mueller and snaps a quick shot off that beats Brown just over his stick-side shoulder just inside the near post for the score, Mueller and Fretter would notch the assists. The score was now 4-2 MSU. With roughly 30 seconds left in the period, MSU began attacking the FSU net as much as possible until the final buzzer. While they got some good scoring chances, none would beat Brown.
The final period saw lots of end-to-end action and some glorious scoring opportunities, but no goals. The momentum shifted almost constantly between the two teams for much of the period. The Bulldogs were fighting desperately to get on the scoreboard, but Vicari and his Spartans teammates would have something to say about it.
The scariest moment for the Spartans came with about two and a half minutes left in regulation time. MSU sophomore Tom Goebel and FSU freshman Matt Stefanishion would battle for puck possession along the boards. The two players get tangled up and Goebel goes down in excruciating pain as a result of what looked like a twisted knee. To compound matters for Goebel, Stefanishion also fell to the ice and then proceeded to kick Goebel around his right thigh area. Goebel had to be helped off the ice. His status is unknown. Stefanishion was assessed a five minute major and a game disqualification for kicking (in simpler terms – intent to injure). From there, the Bulldogs began to lose their composure. Just about 45 seconds later, Legue would be assessed a charging call before FSU head coach Bob Daniels took his time out to cool off his troops. The Spartans were on a five-on-three power play for the remainder of the game, but just couldn’t cash in. The game would end 4-2.
The game, while it did have its moments and was exciting at times, was not a solid start-to-finish effort by either team. What enabled MSU to win the game was their ability to capitalize on their opportunities, particularly early in the game and get some steady goaltending by Vicari.
Sophomore Colton Fretter (ATL), who notched two assists in the game, had an outstanding game, creating several good scoring opportunities and working hard at both ends of the ice. He was sat earlier in the season due to a coach’s decision after MSU head coach Rick Comley wasn’t pleased with Fretter’s work ethic. After being forced to sit Fretter has changed his tune and has been a key contributor for the Spartans since. The injury to Goebel could make things harder for the Spartans top line. Goebel, whose linemates are seniors Jim Slater (ATL) and Mike Lalonde have been quite successful in the past and work quite well together. However, this season the line is struggling to find its magic and losing Goebel, especially if its long term, could prolong that struggle.
For the Bulldogs, despite being ejected from the game, Matt Stefanishion played an excellent game and is definitely one to watch for those planning to see FSU in the future. Senior Jeff Legue was another FSU player that had a solid game and could be a potential NHL free agent pick-up after the season ends.
The home-and-home series concludes tomorrow night when it moves to Ewigleben Arena (FSU’s home ice) in Big Rapids.
[Footnote: MSU junior defenseman Corey Potter (NYR) did not play in this game due to a separated shoulder. He has yet to play in a regular season game this year for MSU].
That game was good. David Booth is an outstanding player. Reminds me of what I saw of Ryan Stone in the CHL a bit in that he can be a grinder but with a real finesse side in him that is untapped. That guy takes control of the puck easily and could convert into an absolutely top notch checking center in the NHL with some more work. Along the board, he is very comfortable. He wins battles, he creates things.
That goal he scored was just awesome. He is a rock on skate (it helps that he is slightly older but still) and threw a couple of checks without really trying that hard and guys were flying.
Thelen I thought did not fight enough on that breakaway he was trying to prevent (which ultimately resulted in a goal). That was a downer, IMO. But other than that, I gotta use a McGuirism and say this guy logs MONSTER minutes. He was barely taking a shift off some stretches, was used extensively on all special teams which makes me glad. He will learn a lot and Minny can't rush him like they do with other prospects.
Opinions are spread on his skating and I can see why. It's not elite, that's for sure. But it is sound and he gets where he needs to. His shot is absolutely deadly but if he plays all games like that night this year, I can see why he has no goals so far. He simply didn't shoot when he should have. There were plenty of opportunities but he just kept on setting up guys when there was an opportunity.That guy needs to be a little more assertive and take control of the game.
He has a physical side to him that I really like and I think the upside is huge and at worst he will be at least as good as Pavel Kubina. Not too shabby. Minnesota got a great one. I think he could definitly be a dominant player and one of the best in the 2004 crop.
Finally my cousin, Colton Fretter, is playing VERY good and is gaining some attention. He scored 2 goals and had an assist on Saturday as well, so that is a 5 point weekend for him. He is leading the team in scoring with 11 points (5g 6a, I believe) in 7 games. I saw the game on Friday since it was on fox sports, and he looked pretty good, but I didn't see the Saturday game. The only other time I got to see a MSU game was when he was a Freshman and not playing too much. Hopefully he keeps up his hot streak!
The injury to Goebel could make things harder for the Spartans top line. Goebel, whose linemates are seniors Jim Slater (ATL) and Mike Lalonde have been quite successful in the past and work quite well together. However, this season the line is struggling to find its magic and losing Goebel, especially if its long term, could prolong that struggle.
That the Slater line is struggling is an understatement. Last season they carried the team. This year Slater is supposed to be a Hobey favorite and the line was supposed to lead by example, but so far I've seen nothing out of these guys. They've combined for only 5 goals in 8 games and are a collective -11.
I'm happy that players like Fretter, Miller, and Goldie are stepping it up but the Spartans need Slater, Lalonde, and Goebel on top of their game if they expect to have a successful season. Personally, I'd split them up to see if another line combo works better.