Michigan State (10-13-5, 6-8-4 Big Ten) fell to Wisconsin (9-12-5, 5-6-5 Big Ten) in one of two overtime games in East Lansing Saturday night and in a contest that also remained physical from the drop of the puck.
The Spartans salvaged one Big Ten point while Wisconsin claimed two with the victory.
“If that was a playoff game, we still might be playing,” coach Danton Cole said. “I liked the atmosphere of it. They came real hard and I thought our guys kept battling and came from behind twice. So (it's) a big point for us to get the four out of six over the weekend with a team we’re tied with.”
The overtime battle featured 12 total penalties as each team took six minors.
Freshman goaltender Drew DeRidder retained the starting role, making 56 saves, as he saved more shots through two periods than he did all of Friday night. The Spartans were able to earn one point despite being outshot 54-31 through regulation and two extra periods.
Wisconsin came out of the gate looking like the dominant team in a first period that seemingly had every skater looking to make a hit.
“We knew it was going to be a hard fought one," Cole said. "Then, when the standard gets set that they're going to let us play a little bit, it kind of got more entertaining. Both teams played pretty hard and I didn't think it was cheap-shot stuff or anything like that. There were some good big hits and guys were playing hard and going to hard areas. I thought it was pretty, a pretty enjoyable hockey.”
The Badgers commanded the lead after just three minutes of play; Will Johnson capitalized on an odd-man rush to put the Badgers up 1-0.
DeRidder was poised despite allowing the early goal, facing 16 shots as he was peppered throughout the first period. The Spartans’ back line assisted their net minder, clearing multiple long rebounds ceded by DeRidder to keep the game within one.
After killing off Wisconsin’s man advantage, MSU’s senior defenseman Zach Osburn got the crowd involved with a standup hit on a Roman Ahcan attempting to gain the zone. As the period drew to a close, the Spartans would threaten to even the score, despite being outshot 16-8 in the first.
Junior forward Taro Hirose batted the puck out of the air, but Jack Berry was able to glove the shot, ending the first at 1-0 in favor of the Badgers.
The Spartans’ top line wasted no time in the second, however, as Hirose sent a wrist shot through within one minute of play. As the period progressed, Wisconsin’s bodies in front of DeRidder coupled with a bombardment of shots would eventually come to fruition for the Badgers.
“We sort of kept a lot of their shots to the outside,” Hirose said. “Drew made up a lot of big saves when we needed them. So that was good to see. I think we cashed on our quality chances tonight and it was good to see in the first two periods.”
At the 10:24 mark, Linus Weissbach followed one of the many long rebounds produced by DeRidder to put Wisconsin back in control 2-1.
The contest, while chippy from the start, became ever more intense as senior forward Cody Milan and junior captain Sam Saliba scuffled with K’Andre Miller and Jack Gorniak after the whistle. Each of the four would serve simultaneous minor penalties.
Freshman center Adam Goodsir continued to heighten the tensions, taking a roughing penalty as he dislodged the net in a scrum after the whistle. Junior defenseman Jerad Rosburg did more of the same for the Spartans, knocking down and nearly taunting Max Zimmer afterwards.
“(After losing 4-1) I'm sure their coaches weren't happy. He sent a message to the guys that they'd better come out ready to play,” Rosburg said. “I think physicality-wise, they tried to do that and they tried to get in our grill whenever they could. I guess they're pretty good at talking; they're pretty good at doing the extra curricular. But the actual physical battle itself, I think you guys know who won that one.”
The Spartans would nod the score just as they did in the second, as junior center Patrick Khodorenko found a trailing Lewandowski for the one-timed goal 37 seconds into the third.
As Wisconsin continued their physical play throughout the period, the Spartans and Badgers essentially alternated on power play opportunities from eight minutes remaining until the end of regulation.
In the 5-on-5 overtime, with three Big Ten points remaining up for grabs, Hirose spun upon gathering the puck to send a shot just wide as the puck harmlessly trickled outside the left post.
”You know the old herb brooks saying: 'The legs feed the wolf.' When we talked about the guys at the end of the second (overtime) period, we said, 'Hey, we've played five really hard periods of hockey. Let's, let's dig down, let's get something and win the third one way or the other,’” Cole said. “The guys figured that out and I think we had more shots in the five-minute overtime than we did in the whole second period."
The Spartans will prepare to travel to Ann Arbor to face Michigan on February 8 at Yost Ice Arena.