EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State hockey team played its final home game of the calendar year on Saturday night, topping the U.S. National Team Development Program U-18 Team, 1-0, in an exhibition contest at Munn Ice Arena. Patrick Khodorenko broke the stalemate with the only goal of the game, scoring on the power play 4:34 into the third period.
MSU outshot the U-18 Team, 33-28 for the game, including by a margin of 15-8 in the third period.
"It was a good battle and I thought that early on they had jump. We had a little bit of exam legs kind of early on, but I thought about halfway through the first period the guys got moving and stopped turning pucks over – you definitely can't do that against a team like the U.S. team, but I thought it was a really good hockey game," head coach Danton Cole said. "I thought both teams skated well and made plays. I thought it was good for us – and not just because we ended up on the right side of it - but from an overall temple of playing it was good."
Lethemon made a few key stops in the last two minutes of the opening period to keep the game scoreless and stopped a total of 17 pucks in 31:45 of work. DeRidder entered the game at the 11:45 mark of the second and went on to make 11 saves, including eight in the last period.
"Both of our goalies played really well," Cole said. "It was positive all the way around and it was a good way to go into the break mentally."
Team USA had an opportunity with a minute remaining in the second period as a MSU penalty led to a 5-on-4 power play opportunity. The Spartans killed the penalty as the period concluded and extinguished all three of the US power plays in the game.
A pair of penalties to the U-18s in a 12-second span early in third period gave the Spartans a two-man advantage and MSU capitalized. Khodorenko got the puck just off the right post and fed it to Dennis Cesana for a one-timer at the top of the right circle. US goaltender Cameron Rowe made the stop on Cesana's shot, but Khodorenko was waiting just off to the right of the crease and batted the rebound into the net.
Team USA pulled Rowe for the extra attacker in the final 1:08, resulting in a couple quality scoring opportunities. DeRidder's best stop came when he turned away Mathew Boldy's breakaway attempt with 24 seconds remaining.
The Spartans will return to action at the 54th annual Great Lakes Invitational December 30-31 at Little Caesars Arena. MSU will meet Lake Superior State on Dec. 30 at 4 p.m. and then face either Michigan or Michigan Tech the following day.
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