It may be a new year, but Michigan State hockey carried its winning ways over into 2024.
The Spartans (15-4-3, 9-1-2 Big Ten) racked up an offensive explosion in their first road series of 2024, notching a 5-0 shutout in game one and a 7-3 win in game two. It was their highest scoring output this season.
Game 1 featured a stellar performance in net from Troy Augustine, who stopped 31 shots in his second shutout recorded this season. Augustine is oozing confidence and playing as well as anyone in the country. To top it off, he continued his impressive play at the World Juniors Championship and helped win the gold medal for Team USA along with forward Isaac Howard. He was one of four Spartans who made an impact on the international stage from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.
He also got plenty of help offensively as Michigan State put 40 shots on net. Tanner Kelly got the scoring started early and put the Spartans up less than five minutes into the game. Reed Lebster followed up with a shorthanded goal to make it 2-0 after one. Gavin O'Connell would add a second period goal, followed by two goals from Joey Larson. He would lead Michigan State with three points.
In Game 2, Michigan State would go down early in the first after giving up a power play goal. Needless to say it was a pretty short lived deficit. They would rattle off five straight goals and cruise the rest of the way. With seven different goal scorers, plenty of Spartans contributed in the blowout win. Most notably was Artyom Levshunov. The freshman defenseman scored and tallied three assists. O'Connell, Lebster and Larson would each score again and also tally an assist.
Nash Nienhuis, Red Savage, and Karsen Dorwart were also goal scorers. Augustine would make 27 saves on 30 shots and bring his record to 13-3-2.
Now Michigan State looks ahead to the first of two weekend series against rival Michigan this Friday and Saturday. While the Wolverines have consistently been one of the more elite college hockey programs in the country, they find themselves in the middle of a pretty average season to this point. They sit at 10-7-3 and are at the bottom half of the Big Ten, but have won three straight and have dominated the head-to-head series over the last four years.
You can be sure though that the records will go out the window when these two square off starting Friday night at Munn.