Ice hockey defeats Wisconsin 3-0 in front of sold out out crowd at Munn
In front of a sold-out crowd of 6,042 at Munn Ice Arena, MSU hockey (15-14-2, 9-6-2-2 Big Ten) picked up an important win with just three games left in the season. The Spartans beat Wisconsin 3-0 on Friday night behind junior goaltender Jake Hildebrand’s fifth shutout of the season.
Senior forward Matt Berry scored two power play goals to give him 10 on the season and a team-leading 25 points. Junior captain Michael Ferrantino scored his 11th goal of the year, which also leads the Spartans.
“Ultimately, the win was the most important thing,” head coach Tom Anastos said. “However we got it, beautifully or ugly, a win was important.”
Hildebrand made 21 saves in his ninth career shutout, but gave most of the praise to the guys skating in front of him.
“It speaks a lot about our…dedication to playing defense,” Hildebrand said. “They’re limiting the other team’s chances and they’re scoring 3 goals a night, I don’t think we’re going to lose too many hockey games.”
Anastos, on the other hand, thought Hildebrand might have been a little too generous in his assessment.
“I think he’s being humble,” Anastos said. “Our team defense was pretty good overall, but he made some key saves in that game.
MSU finished 2-for-6 with the man advantage and killed off all four of the Badgers (4-23-4, 2-13-2-2 Big Ten) power plays. After a rough start to the year, the Spartans have gotten their power play percentage up to 17.4 percent.
“I think we’ve just worked on it and kind of found each other and found ways to create more offense,” Berry said. “We set it up a little differently so I think that’s really changed a lot for us and it’s created more offense.”
Berry’s goal in the first period came on the Spartans second power play. Sophomore forward Mackenzie MacEachern set up the play with a nice backhand pass.
“Mac set me up with a backdoor tap-in so I couldn’t really miss that one,” Berry said. “It was a good play by him.”
The Spartans allowed just one shot on goal in that first period.
Ferrantino gave the Spartans a 2-0 lead 14:25 into the second period. Junior forward Ryan Keller picked up a secondary assist, giving both he and Ferrantino a career best five-game point streak.
“Keller and (senior forward Brent Darnell) were down there working hard in the corners and Darny kind of backed his way to the front of the net there.” Ferrantino said of his goal. “(I) just was able to get a stick on it and lift it up and over his pad.”
With UM losing to Penn State on Friday night, the Spartans remain in third place in the Big Ten just two points behind the Wolverines and Minnesota. MSU will face Wisconsin for the last time this regular season Saturday night at 7 p.m.
“Mission accomplished tonight,” Anastos said. “(It’s) going to be tougher tomorrow and we’ve got to start setting our sights on that first period.”