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College Hockey:
Spartans blank Buckeyes

Freshman netminder Yanakeff masterful with 32 saves

— Michigan State Spartans freshman goalie Will Yanakeff got his second shutout of the season with a sterling 32 save effort leading the Spartans en route to a 2-0 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes Friday night.

“We played well, just couldn’t score,” Ohio State head coach Mark Osiecki said. “We didn’t find a way to create that rebound goal. We played well again but unfortunately, it was a lost faceoff and a non-blocked shot that ends up into the back of the net.”

Yanakeff was seldom used early in the season, but with the win improved to 5-1-1 on the season with a 1.65 goals against average. Yanakeff has led the Spartans to wins in back-to-back games and is making Michigan State head coach Rick Comley’s decision tough on who to start for tomorrow’s rematch.

“He has improved so much just getting settled and confident,” Comley said. “He hasn’t played a lot of hockey the last three years. He is healthy now… I’ve protected him for a while, but he has earned minutes and playing. The team is very confident in front of him.”

“It is a good feeling, I didn’t expect it” to come in and contribute this much,” Yanakeff said. “Things happen and you get your chances. I am going to take advantage of them.”

Comley would not commit to a starter for tomorrow.

“It is hard not to (go back to Yanakeff) but (Drew) Palmisano has played so well,” Comley said. “I really don’t know.”

Ohio State only got eight shots on goal on Yanakeff in the first period but managed to get 11 in the second and 13 in the third. Buckeyes forward John Albert had seven shots saved by Yanakeff.

“We are getting our chances but nothing is going in for us,” Albert said. “We just got to keep working hard and hope to get a lucky bounce here.”

Yanakeff had a brief scare late in the third as Ohio State appeared to tie the game at one on an Ohio State power play as Buckeyes’ forward Cory Schneider’s redirection shot went off his skate. The shot was ruled to have been directed in with his skate before crossing the goal line. The goal was immediately waved-off by referee Stephen McInchak and was confirmed by a video replay.

“I thought we played really well in the first period,” Yanakeff said. “They definitely turned it on after the first period. If anything in the third period, they had a lot more chances, especially on the power-play.”

Yanakeff was opposed by Cal Heeter who posted a 23 save performance only allowing one goal.

Michigan State took a 1-0 lead 6:04 into the second as Spartans defenseman Tim Buttery floated a wrister through traffic after receiving a feed from center Saultan Leveille off a faceoff. Ohio State was 62 percent on faceoffs but one of the 22 faceoffs it lost led directly to the goal.

Seconds after Schneider’s possible game-tying goal, Derek Grant scored on a breakaway into an empty net after getting fed by Dustin Gazley as Grant skated into the Ohio State zone.

Ohio State faces its first four game losing streak since it lost eight in a row between Oct. 19 – Nov. 9, 2007. The Buckeyes were shutout last week at Alaska.

“We are not the most gifted goal scoring team as is,” Osiecki said. “We have to find a way to the puck on net and crash the net and get ugly goals.”

Before the game, Comley was given a plaque by Osiecki on the ice thanking him for his contribution to college hockey. Comley is retiring from Michigan State following the season. Comley said he recruited Osiecki when he was coaching at Northern Michigan.

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