MSU hockey defeats Wisconsin, 4-3
In the opening segment of the broadcast of the game the word consistency was uttered multiple times as a key to victory tonight for MSU hockey (8-20-3, 4-10-1-0) and Wisconsin (6-14-7,1-9-3-1). With both teams struggling to string together wins throughout the year it wouldn’t be consistency that ultimately decided the back and forth contest.
For the second time in four games, MSU senior forward Matt DeBlouw supplied the game-winning-goal. This time on a one timer from the slot in the waning minutes of the third period boosting the Spartans to a 4-3 win over the Badgers.
The game looked to be on the path of the storyline of MSU’s season; a great performance followed up by a timid effort and loss.
Just 45 seconds into the game a discombobulated MSU team struggled to get the puck out of it’s own zone. The Spartans sent passes into skates and rushed decisions, allowing for the speedy Badger forecheck to disrupt MSU. An errant puck swung to Badger forward Luke Kunin who fed it to Badger forward Grant Besse. Besse’s shot was blocked but he regathered it and dished to Kunin who snapped the pass by the blocker of Hildebrand making it 1-0 Wisconsin.
The goal galvanized the Badgers. Wisconsin began to smother MSU in every area of the ice cutting down pass lanes and getting the body on any MSU player who touched the puck. But a fortunate bounce would swing the momentum from the Badgers in the last half of the first.
MSU forward Cody Milan pushed the puck forward off the draw where it careened to forward Brennan Sanford. Sanford drifted to the corner and slid the puck to a crashing Ryan Keller. The puck redirected off Keller’s foot and slid just inside the post behind Wisconsin standout goalie Matt Jurusik.
MSU fed off Keller’s goal, flipping Wisconsin’s game on itself. MSU began to dictate the style of the game as the first period wound down and it would lead to a quick start in the second period.
44 seconds into the second period, a circling Dylan Pavelek found a wide open John Draeger at the point. Draegar drifted to his right, hesitated then slung the puck at the net where his shot caught the stick of a crashing Pavelek. Pavelek redirected the shot through the five-hole of Jurusik propelling msu to a 2-1 lead.
Barely two minutes later a net mouth scramble in front of the Badger net caused a loose puck to slip into the slot. Speedy and offensive minded MSU freshman defenseman Zach Osburn jumped on the loose puck and swung his stick at the puck; chipping it into the top shelf of the goal.
Osburn’s opportunistic play bolstered MSU who played with the edge a 3-1 lead carries, however Wisconsin hadn’t folded it in.
Nearly two minutes after the Osburn goal, Wisconsin would pop in a power play goal when Will Johnson corralled a rebound and sent it passed Hildebrand cutting the lead to one.
Just as MSU had stolen the momentum earlier, Wisconsin fought back with a new found focus.
The Badgers would pour on 13 shots on Hildebrand in the second frame, but he stood tall denying all but one in the period. Hildebrand would finish the game with 34 saves. Coming through as he has when MSU has needed him most Hildebrand looked like the Hildebrand of last season.
With Hildebrand backstopping, MSU was able to survive the barrage of Badger chances and take a one goal lead into the final frame.
Another early goal would set the pace for the third period, when Cameron Hughes was on the recieving end of a beautiful cycle and pass play by the Badgers. Hughes walked off the wall caught the pass and fired it over a screened Hildebrand making it 3-1 not even two minutes into the third.
Again MSU withstood a flurry of Wisconsin opportunities while trying to strike as well. A sprawled Hildebrand made a save from his backside preserving the tie game and it was the break MSU needed.
With 5:38 remaining in regulation MSU held the puck in the Badger end. DeBlouw slipped in behind the Badger defense and into the slot where Junior forward Thomas Ebbing dishd him a pass. DeBlouw unloaded a one timer into the twine making it 4-3 MSU.
Rejuvenated by DeBlouw’s goal, MSU played smart but aggressive hockey. A tight checking MSU team kept the Badgers from gaining an real shot at tying the game until the final seconds, but that Wisconsin attempt was easily handled and shoved to the corner.
MSU hockey has now taken five of the last six meetings with the Badgers. The two meet again in Madison tomorrow night at 9 p.m.