MSU Tops USA Hockey NDT U18 Team 3-0

Photo by Brian Pierson

Editor’s Note: This game story is provided by Brian Pierson. You can catch Brian on the SRD Roadshow on Saturdays live on crbradio.com or on demand on SportsRadioDetroit.com.

There are times where you can go home again, and for Michigan State head coach Danton Cole it couldn’t have been more true.

Before becoming the Spartan head coach in back in April, Cole stood behind the bench of USA Hockey National Development U17 and U18 teams for seven seasons. But Saturday night marked Cole’s return to USA Hockey Arena for the first time as an opponent.

“I probably spent more time than usual watching the other team play,” Cole said with a chuckle. “You can tell they’re getting better and better. It’s just fun to watch them progress.”

Despite the progress Cole saw, the Spartans beat the USA U18 team 3-0 behind sophomore Patrick Khodorenko’s two-goal night.

The first period was tight, and close as both teams skated to a 0-0 tie. Then Khodorenko, who was in the USA Development program from 2014-16, went to work in the second period.

Sophomore forward Taro Hirose drifted into the slot, and was set-up for a good scoring opportunity, but two USA defenders closed in on him. The Calgary, Alberta native, dumped the puck to Khodorenko to the short side of the net for a 1-0 lead with 12:37 left in the second period.

“They’re a fast skilled team. We just had to play our game and everything worked out. I didn’t score a lot of home goals when I played here for some reason, but it’s nice to get two goals here coming back,” the Walnut Creek, CA native said.

The Spartans added to the their lead with three minutes left of the third period when freshman David Keefer put in a rebound on the door step for a 2-0 lead. Then with a 1:30 left, Khodorenko put the icing on the cake with an empty net goal for a 3-0 final.

Even though USA U18 didn’t score any goals on Saturday night, the team had a better showing than two weeks ago against Michigan. This time around they hung tough for the majority of the game totaling 20 shots on goal, with Michigan State barely getting the upper hand with 22.

“We didn’t execute. We missed a couple odd man rush chances that we had. They’re not going to give you many 2 on 1’s with the way they play. When you have those, you need to take advantage of them,” USA coach Seth Appert said.

“I liked us in the first. I thought we created enough to score. I thought our effort was high,” he added. “You’re playing guys that are between two and seven years older than we are. I thought we matched the battle level. We won puck battles. We didn’t win more than them but we won battles. We had chances at the front of the net, we just couldn’t win that rebound battle.”

The game was special not only because it was Michigan State’s first appearance at USA Hockey Arena, but it also fell on “Hockey Against Hunger” night. Fans were encouraged to bring in five cans of food to support Gleaner’s Community Food Bank. Fans who did so earned a 50/50 raffle ticket to put their name in a drawing. The food and money donations are put towards purchasing gallons of milk for families in need.

USA Hockey will host Ferris State University on January 2nd as their colligate series continues into 2018.