Turning points need to begin somewhere – why not at home against your heated rival. The Michigan hockey team is hoping that’s the case after knocking off visiting Michigan State 4-0 at Yost Arena on Thursday.
With the win, Michigan improved to 7-6-2 on the season. MSU falls to 7-9-1. The confidence and good feelings will last only 24 hours when the two teams meet again in East Lansing on Friday for the home-and-home rematch.
Michigan senior captain Tony Calderone led the way with three goals for the home team. Calderone’s final goal of his hat trick was his 13th of the season, good for the outright lead in the Big Ten, and tying him for the nation’s lead in goal scoring.
The Wolverines also outshot the Spartans 29-21.
The Wolverines came into their first meeting of the season with the Spartans looking to turn their rollercoaster ride back to higher ground. They were swept by Ohio State and had lost four of five before defeating the USA Hockey National Team Development U-18 team 7-3 on Saturday.
Michigan played a much stronger game, especially on the defensive end, than they did in the pair of meetings with Ohio State. In their last six Big Ten games, the Wolverines allowed 29 goals – and that’s too many by any standards.
But the defense was solid and Michigan goalie Hayden Lavigne was impressive in the pipes for Big Blue. The sophomore turned aside 21 shots by MSU to record the team’s first shutout of the season.
Penalties dominated the early part of the second period which led the Wolverines to breaking the scoreless tie.
With 12:22 left in the second, and with the Wolverines about to go on an abbreviated power play, Joseph Cecconi fired a slap shot from just inside the blue line. Josh Norris, a freshman from Oxford, tipped the puck into the upper right corner to make it 1-0.
With 5 minutes left in second period, Calderone found himself with the puck standing in front of MSU goalie John Lethemon. The Michigan senior hesitated, not rushing it and showing great patience and wherewithal to realize he had time – there wasn’t an MSU defender in the near vicinity. He deeked, went to his backhand and beat Lethemon to make it 2-0.
The Wolverines outshot the Spartans 9-5 in the second period, which featured eight penalties.
With 9:46 left in the game, Michigan’s Cooper Marody took advantage of a fortuitous bounce and came in from the right side with teammate Calderone to his left on a two-on-one break. Marody sent a perfect pass across ice to Calderone who beat Lethemon to make it 3-0. Perfect pass. Perfect shot. Goal.
With 3:28 left in the game, Calderone netted the hat trick to make it 4-0. A great pass out from behind the net by Dexter Dancs set up the goal, which brought out a large collection of hats to the Yost Arena Ice.
Michigan plays at MSU on Friday before taking a long break. The Wolverines return to action Jan. 1 against Bowling Green at GLI and then face the winner of the MSU-Michigan Tech game on Jan. 2. Both games are the Little Caesers Arena in Detroit.
Michigan’s next home game at Yost is Jan. 5 vs. Notre Dame.