EAST LANSING, Mich. — The stunning announcement regarding head coach Ron Mason underscored one of Michigan State’s best performances of the year as the Spartans beat Ohio State 5-1 to extend their home unbeaten streak to 32 games.
Junior winger Ryan Maloney recorded his first career hat trick and junior center Troy Ferguson and junior defenseman Brad Fast each recorded a goal to help MSU complete a weekend sweep of the Buckeyes and stay atop the CCHA standings with 30 points.
“Today was a great game for us, and it was the type of series we had to have to keep us at the top,” Mason said. “I’m real proud of this team because we’re playing with a lot injuries right now and I respect the guys who stepped in and did a great job. It shows you we’ve got some depth and we’ve got some character.”
Michigan State wasted little time in getting a lead, as the Spartans scored two goals in the game’s first eight minutes.
Fast opened the scoring at 1:31 when he fired a shot from the point that got through a screen and between the pads of Ohio State goalie Mike Betz.
Maloney made it 2-0 on a power-play nearly six minutes later without the puck even hitting his stick.
MSU defenseman Joe Markusen’s shot from the right faceoff circle deflected off Maloney’s skate and into the net at 7:15 of the period for MSU’s third power play goal in two games.
With 5:30 left in the second, the Buckeyes didn’t help their comeback effort by putting themselves two men down on a too-many-men penalty and a call on defenseman Scott Titus for checking from behind.
The Spartans capitalized on the five-on-three when Fast fired a rocket from the point that Betz originally stopped, but the rebound created a golden opportunity for Ferguson, who camped himself to the side of Betz and flipped the puck into a wide-open net to make it 3-0 at 15:37.
Maloney then made it 4-0 with 2:24 left in the period, this time with his stick, as he took a perfect pass from freshman winger Mike Lalonde, cut across Betz, and lifted a backhand past the sprawled Buckeye goaltender.
Ohio State came out with a little more life in the third period and at 1:40 ended another shutout bid by MSU goalie Ryan Miller when junior winger Miguel Lafleche got just enough of a pass from sophomore winger Paul Caponigri to tip the puck past Miller to make it 4-1.
Maloney got the hat trick with 6:49 left on a goal that could have been gift wrapped in a hat.
After screening Betz on point shot from Spartan junior defenseman John-Michael Liles, the rebound sat right in the crease for Maloney, who simply tapped the puck into the vacated goal to make it 5-1 MSU.
“The pucks seemed to be going in for me tonight,” Maloney said. “It’s kind of funny how sometimes you shoot all you want and they won’t go in, but tonight I was just in the right place at the right time.”
With the loss, Ohio State remained in the middle of the pack in the CCHA race with 20 points.
The Buckeyes will get a chance for revenge on home ice next Friday and Saturday when Michigan State visits Columbus for a two-game series.
“We didn’t win the one-on-one battles,” OSU head coach John Markell said. “We didn’t prepare to come back and play as hard as we did on Friday night. It’s a good lesson.”