Hampering mistakes cost MSU hockey a chance at sweeping Wisconsin
Junior forward Joe Cox took a jab to the head, a stick to the leg, and three cross checks to the back. He promptly returned the blows with some forceful punches of his own. The puck hadn’t even dropped yet.
Thus the tone was set for the second and final game of MSU hockey’s (5-10-2, 1-3-0-0) series with Wisconsin (4-7-5, 1-2-1-0), which ended in a a 3-0 loss for the Spartans.
“We came out a little flat and didn’t have the energy we wanted,” senior captain Michael Ferrantino said. “We’ll have to go back and find a way to be more ready at the start of games.”
The physicality right from the start spilled over into much of the beginning of the first period with both sides trading hit after hit. Neither could convert the aggression into goals. MSU’s best chances came on the power play but it squandered both man advantage opportunities.
Wisconsin broke open the scoring in the second period when Grant Besse deflected Seamus Malone’s shot passed MSU goalie Jake Hildebrand with 15:10 to play in the second period. Tim Davison received an assist on the goal as well.
“When they do things like that, you try and get your body in front of it,” Hildebrand said of the deflected pucks. “You know I wasn’t able to do that tonight.”
High risk high reward freshmen defenseman Zach Osburn found himself the culprit of Wisconsin’s next goal when he coughed the puck up in front of his own net. Badger forward Ryan Wagner dished the loose puck to forward Matthew Freytag who wristed it behind an unready Hildebrand putting Wisconsin up 2-0.
“You make those mistakes once in a great while,” head coach Tom Anastos said of turnover. “Those can't be repetitive mistakes.”
Wisconsin’s constant pressure on the puck made it tough on the Spartans to find room to make plays. It paid off again for the Badgers as MSU failed to clear the puck with a minute remaining in the second.
Besse tipped the clearing attempt to defenseman Jake Bunz who threw one through the crowd of bodies in front of the net where it took a friendly bounce off forward Luke Kunin’s stick and into the back of the net.
“We didn't give ourselves enough chance to build momentum and by the third period that’s too late,” Anastos said.
Wisconsin did all it could in the third period to give Jurusik a shutout. Blocking shots and focusing on the defensive zone Wisconsin was able stifle a swarm of MSU. Jurusik earned his first career shutout behind 28 saves; with 15 of those coming in the third.
MSU hockey travels to Northeastern next weekend for a one game contest with the Huskies.