EAST LANSING, Mich. — There were too many taglines in Friday night’s game between the Michigan State Spartans and the Ferris State Bulldogs to choose from.
First of all, there is the score — 8-0 in favor of the Spartans (four in the first and four in the third against two Bulldog netminders) — the same Spartans that registered only one goal against Ohio State in two games two weekends ago.
Second comes the first official hat trick Spartan freshman forward Tom Goebel scored in his collegiate career (he registered a hat trick earlier in the season in an exhibition against Windsor).
Third is the Cinderella story of redshirt junior Steve Swistak, who has seen limited action before being thrown into the line-up during the Ohio State series, registering one assist last Saturday against Western Michigan (his first collegiate point) and two goals in Friday night’s game (his first two collegiate goals).
Lastly, there was the first collegiate shutout for Spartan freshman goaltender Dominic Vicari, as he stopped 21 Bulldog bullets and the first collegiate points registered by freshman defenseman Chris Snavely (one goal and two assists).
The Spartans seemed unable to do anything wrong in their victory over Ferris State, while the Bulldogs were continually frustrated, either by the Spartan defense or their netminder Vicari.
On the other end of the ice, FSU goaltender Mike Brown seemed to get all the tough breaks. The first shot Brown faced, coming off of Tom Goebel’s seemingly golden stick, was while Goebel was on a breakaway.
As Ferris coach Bob Daniels will tell you, that’s just not fair to any goalie.
“You just can’t throw a breakaway at him the very first shot of the game,” Daniels said.
A little over two minutes later, Goebel struck again, corralling a bouncing puck teammate Ash Goldie couldn’t get a stick on, shoving it into the back of the net.
Twenty-nine seconds later, Steve Swistak got the first of his two goals on the evening and Bob Daniels called a time-out to settle his team down. A little over three minutes later, David Booth scored to send the Spartans to the locker room with a 4-0 lead.
Even with the deficit his team faced, Daniels didn’t count his Bulldogs out of the game, though he admitted it would have been tough to recover from being down by four.
“When you start out like we did, in the first four or five minutes of the game on the road, its pretty hard to recover from that,” he said. “I think if we could have scored on a couple of the opportunities we had, we could have gotten ourselves back in it.”
The second period was pretty much dead even — it looked like the Bulldogs had finally decided to play hockey, but halfway through the third, the momentum shifted back in the Spartans’ favor. A little over ten minutes into the period, Tom Goebel found the back of the net to round out the hat trick, and Daniels admitted that was all the Bulldogs could take.
“After that fifth goal went in — it was like we buckled after that,” he said.
Daniels ended up pulling netminder Mike Brown and replacing him with backup goalie Matt Swanson after the fifth Spartan tally. The Spartans weren’t any nicer to Swanson as Michigan State added a second goal from Steve Swistak, a goal by junior forward Brock Radunske, and a last goal coming off the stick of freshman defenseman Chris Snavely.
“It just seemed like our defensemen were really struggling handling the puck tonight. It isn’t all about our defensemen though. As a whole, we really played poorly,” Daniels said.
Spartan Head Coach Rick Comley, while enjoying the win, is cautious about being overconfident for the rematch in the home-and-home series, tomorrow night in Big Rapids, with the initial puck drop set for 7:05 p.m.
“As we know, the Bulldogs will be a different team tomorrow,” Comley said.