Wednesday, December 8, 2021

FINAL: Wisconsin 4, Michigan State 0, Spartans held scoreless in 3rd consecutive game

March 5, 2021
Goodsir dives to regain possession of the puck in the second period but is unsuccessful. The Badgers shut out the Spartans 4-0 at Munn Ice Arena on Mar. 5, 2021.
Goodsir dives to regain possession of the puck in the second period but is unsuccessful. The Badgers shut out the Spartans 4-0 at Munn Ice Arena on Mar. 5, 2021. —
Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

This one may have been predictable.

Michigan State hockey’s lethargic season continued Friday, this time with a 4-0 loss to No. 5 Wisconsin at Munn Ice Arena.

The first period could not have started much worse for MSU, who found themselves down by a goal just two minutes in. Starting goaltender Drew DeRidder made the initial stop, but a long rebound in front of the net somehow found the stick of Wisconsin center Tarek Baker. He fired it right away from just inside the circle and sniped it into the upper corner on a beautiful shot.

With the game still in the balance, Michigan State had a chance to make things even with their first power play of the game on a penalty by Wisconsin forward Jack Gorniak. But like it has been all year, the power play was held scoreless.

Then 16 seconds later, Gorniak and forward Dylan Holloway were sprung on a two-on-one chance. Gorniak attempted to feed Holloway, but the pass ricocheted off of MSU defenseman Tommy Miller’s skate and found its way in the back of the net, sending the Spartans well on their way to another dreadful loss.

Just when MSU thought they were doing a good job of stopping Wisconsin star forward Cole Caufield, the sophomore did not take long to heat up.

Six seconds into a power play because of a Kyle Haskins tripping penalty, Caufield ripped a rocket of a slap shot from the point for the 23rd goal of the season from the nation’s leading scorer.

The Badgers got another power-play chance four minutes later, and it was the same story. Caufield unleashed a shot from the same exact spot, but it was blocked by MSU forward Mitchell Mattson, who was back in the lineup for the first time since Jan. 30. That sent the puck in the air, right in front of Wisconsin forward Ty Pelton-Byce. He took a whack at it, made a connection from the slot, and beat DeRidder five-hole to give Bucky a 4-0 lead in the second period.

Freshman Pierce Charleson replaced DeRidder in net after making 19 saves to go along with the four surrendered goals. Wisconsin kept the pedal to the medal, but Charleson played well making 20 saves in a half-game shutout.

Wisconsin starting goaltender Robbie Beydoun, a Plymouth, Michigan native playing with family and friends in attendance, was fantastic in net making 28 stops for his third shutout of the season and second shutout against Michigan State.

Caufield was held, mostly, in check by the Spartans finishing with a goal, an assist and five shots on net.

The loss is also the Spartans’ third consecutive game without a goal - a stretch totaling 205 minutes long dating back to MSU’s 5-1 loss to Minnesota on Feb. 20.

“Obviously everyone is trying to score and it is just not happening for us right now,” defenseman Dennis Cesana said after the game. “So obviously it is a lot of frustration and a lot of just looking ourselves in the eyes and just figuring it out. It has been a little bit of a rough stretch here but we are trying to figure it out.”

Freshmen forward Kristof Papp led MSU with five shots on goal followed by Cesana with four.

In an interesting move, Spartan forward Josh Nodler was moved from center, a position he has played abundantly throughout his hockey career, to right-wing. Recent struggles may have been the reasoning, but Cole said after the game it was more of a decision to get Papp in at center.

“I thought he looked good. I liked that line,” Cole said. “... Really it wasn't about Josh playing center, I think Kristof was a little bit better at the center than he was on the wing.”

The Spartans performed well in the circle, winning three more draws than the Badgers, but now is not the time for moral victories. MSU needs to find ways to put the puck in the net.

“I just stick with the process and how it goes. They do not need to be reminded of that. Everybody goes through patches. It is what it is. But what we can control is how hard our guys work and how they apply some things. I will give them credit for that. It doesn't do me any good and it sure doesn't do them any good to go in and harp on that.”

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The ‘process’ was working at the beginning of the year, but the results have not been there since the turn of the new year. This team is lost and someone is going to need to step up to show some sort of life if it is already not too late.

The Spartans have a chance at revenge and an opportunity to end the regular season on a high note Saturday afternoon for the regular-season finale against Wisconsin at 2:30 p.m.

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