MSU hockey sweeps Wisconsin in Madison, wins finale 3-1
For much of the latter half of the season MSU head hockey coach Tom Anastos has been struggling to find answer as to why his team couldn’t string together two wins. In a season plagued with inconsistency, MSU found some steady play on the road in Madison Wisconsin.
Tied up at one with seconds ticking away and overtime in the backs of many minds, Thomas Ebbing flew into the Badger zone, whisked a pass to a wide open Mackenzie MacEachern who snapped the shot low blocker side of Wisconsin’s Matt Jurusik. MacEachern’s goal with 1:36 remaining in the contest put the Spartans ahead for good. MacEachern would add the empty-net goal with 23 seconds left sealing a 3-1 victory and two-game sweep of the Badgers.
A very methodical and defensive minded game was 180 degree flip from the night before. The previous night’s clash was wrought with back and forth fast paced action which MSU outlast Wisconsin, 4-3. The safe approach then became a game of who could crack first as MSU and the Badgers minimized mistakes.
MSU struck first in the first period when Zach Osburn’s wrister from the point was tipped in front by MSU senior captain and forward Michael Ferrantino for his eighth goal of the season. Ferrantino’s hand-eye play gave MSU a 1-0 lead. Junior forward Villiam Haag also notched an assist on the goal.
Ferrantino’s goal came with 1:06 left in the opening frame after MSU had survived a steadfast Wisconsin attack. The Badgers pinned their ears back throwing everything they had at the MSU net. Wisconsin dominated puck possession but Jake Hildebrand, who stopped 26 shots in the contest, was there to bail MSU out as he continued to look more and more back to last year’s Big Ten Player of the Year form.
The second period didn’t see much action as the game quickly became a see-saw battle for who could commit the least amount of mistakes. Strategy switched from puck possession to dump and chase, with fresh bodies off the bench coming every so odd seconds. The methodical period ended without any goals.
Though MSU had made mistakes throughout the game none were costly until seven minutes into the period, Wisconsin’s Seamus Malone stepped into a pass in the slot and banked the shot off the right post and in, knotting the game at one a piece.
MSU survived the eenuing momentum surge and warded off Wisconsin’s attempts to split the sereis. As the clock wound down a pair of penalties by MSU defensemen, junior Rhett Holland and Osburn gave Wisconsin the chance for the go-ahead goal.
MSU’s penalty killing units and Hildebrand withstood the Badger 5 on 3 opportunity, killing off both penalties and swinging momentum to the SPartan side.
Ebbing and MacEachern, former high school teammates at Birmingham Brother RIce and junior hockey teammates on the Chicago Steel of the USHL, the two have developed a chemistry and an ever present knowledge of where the other can be found on the ice.
Ebbing’s pass to MacEachern for the game winner was a no-look pass across the ice. MacEachern walked in and slipped the shot by Jurusik capping off an Ebbing to MacEachern goal that’s happened many times before.
MacEachern added the insurance goal off another pass from Ebbing capping off the sweep.
MSU’s weekend sweep of the Badgers was its first sweep since taking both games from New Hampshire in early November. MSU currently sits in fourth place in the Big Ten standings. Fourth has become the coveted spot for the bottom three teams - Ohio State and Wisconsin are the other two - as those three look to avoid playing red hot Penn State in the first round.
MSU will resume action on March 4-5 as they host first place in the Big Ten, Minnesota at Munn Ice Arena.