Coming off a bye week, the MSU hockey team (5-16-2, 1-7-1 Big Ten) hoped to seek revenge after a weekend sweep by the Wisconsin Badgers earlier in the season. Instead, the Spartans followed their lackluster performance in the first series with a 6-3 loss to the No. 18 ranked team in the nation Friday.
Junior goaltender Ed Minney was benched for freshman John Lethemon after allowing three goals in the opening period. The freshman from Northville, Mich. registered five saves in the loss.
Both teams grappled with difficulties getting shots on goal throughout the game. The Spartans were able to document just 23 shots to the Badgers’ 18.
In the defeat, freshman forward Patrick Khodorenko scored a team-high two goals.
5:28 into the first frame, Badgers forward Trent Frederic’s wrist shot snuck by Minney giving the Badgers the first goal of the game.
Defenseman Jake Linhart — near the blue line — made a pass to forward Trent Frederic. The freshman forward skated into the slot, and his wrist shot found the back of the net, and the Badgers took a 1-0 lead.
The Badgers proceeded to extend their lead 3:17 later after a goal from Luke Kunin, who entered Friday’s game the Badgers’ leader in goals with 15 and points with 24.
After a pass from Frederic at center ice caught Kunin in stride, the sophomore captain — skating from the left side of the ice to the net — deked out Minney and made for an easy goal.
With 6:13 remaining in the first period, freshman forward Taro Hirose was given a five minute major for kneeing and a 10 minute game misconduct after rushing towards Badgers’ defenseman Tim Davison and kneeing the redshirt junior. As a result of the hit, Davison was slow to get off the ice, and the man-advantage attempt led to another goal for the Badgers.
1:18 into the power play for Wisconsin, defenseman Corbin McGuire fed sophomore forward Will Johnson the puck, and a wrist shot from the left circle sailed by Minney, giving the Badgers a 3-0 lead.
The Badgers maintained the lead, and finished the first frame leading 3-0 and outshot the Spartans, 10-5.
After a Spartan turnover led to the Badgers tailing their first goal on Lethemon 6:11 in the second frame, the Spartans scored 50 seconds later to cut the deficit to three.
Forward Patrick Khodorenko stole the puck at the point in the Spartans’ zone, and skated to the right circle, where his wrist shot got by Badgers’ goaltender Jack Berry. The goal was the freshman’s fifth goal of the season and made the score 4-1.
3:01 later, the Badgers tacked on their fifth goal of the game as Ryan Wagner was credited with the goal, giving Wisconsin a 5-1 lead.
Despite scoring two goals in the second period, the Badgers were only able to generate four shots on goal during the entire second frame. Meanwhile, the Spartans logged eight and headed into the locker room trailing, 5-1.
10:01 remaining in the game, Khodorenko managed to record his second goal of the night, cutting the Badgers’ lead to three.
After an initial shot by the freshman was saved by Berry, Khodorenko got the puck again and scored on the second chance.
2:46 after Khodorenko’s goal, freshman forward Sam Saliba registered his third goal of his career and further trimmed the Badgers’ lead.
The Spartans pulled Lethemon late in the third period vying to mount a comeback, but the Badgers scored on the empty net with 12 seconds left in the game as the Spartans dropped their seventh Big Ten game of the season.
MSU will face Wisconsin once again Saturday night to conclude the weekend series. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be televised on BTN2GO.
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