The hockey team’s road struggles continued this weekend, as the team dropped back-to-back contests at No. 8 Wisconsin.
MSU lost 5-2 on Friday night, surrendering four unanswered goals after leading early in the first period. The following night, MSU was kept off the scoreboard, falling 2-0. In both games, Wisconsin took advantage of Spartan penalties, scoring two power play goals each night.
It only was the second time in Big Ten play that MSU came away with no points in a two-game series. Without earning any points this weekend, the Spartans remain in fifth place in the Big Ten. MSU entered the weekend only one point out of third place, with a chance to gain ground on idle Ohio State.
Friday night started off with a bang for MSU. Senior forward Lee Reimer gave the Spartans an early 1-0 lead on a shorthanded goal 6:52 into the game. However, it went downhill from there as the green and white gave up four consecutive goals.
It appeared MSU would enter the second intermission trailing by only one, but Wisconsin senior forward Mark Zengerle put one past sophomore goaltender Jake Hildebrand with only four seconds left in the second period to give Wisconsin a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes of play
Head coach Tom Anastos said the late goal in the second period was tough for MSU to overcome.
“Giving up that late goal in the last (four) seconds of the second period, that’s a backbreaker,” Anastos told the Spartan Sports Network following Friday night’s game.
Anastos said one positive from Friday night’s loss was freshman forward Mackenzie MacEachern, who scored his first goal since early December.
Although the goal didn’t have much of an impact in the final tally, it did break a 16-game scoreless streak for MacEachern.
Friday was the first time in the last seven games that MSU gave up more than two goals in a game.
The team’s season-long offensive struggles continued Saturday afternoon.
Wisconsin used great defense to hold MSU scoreless for the fifth time this season.
It appeared sophomore forward Matt DeBlouw scored a power-play goal to get MSU on the scoreboard early in the first period, but the goal was waved off after further review.
The officials said Reimer was in the crease and interfered with Wisconsin junior goaltender Joel Rumpel.
Hildebrand finished with 28 saves on Saturday night, giving him 51 in the two games.
MSU also was bit by the injury bug in the weekend series. Junior defenseman R.J. Boyd experienced a lower body injury before Friday’s game and was out both nights.
Redshirt freshman defenseman Brock Krygier went down in Friday’s game with a knee injury and missed most of the game before returning Saturday.
MSU returns to the ice this Saturday in an exhibition matchup against the U.S. National Development Program Under-18 team.
The game begins at 7 p.m. at Munn Ice Arena.
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