Michigan State opened its two-game series against Wisconsin with a 3-2 win, powered by strong goaltending and two goals from junior forward Erik Middendorf.
Senior goaltender Drew DeRidder made plenty of key saves to ensure a Spartan victory, stopping 40 of Wisconsin’s 42 shots on goal.
The first period of the game was a sloppy affair for both teams. Michigan State’s forwards struggled to break past Wisconsin’s aggressive forechecking and strong defensemen; Wisconsin’s forwards faced similar issues.
In a closely contested period, it was special teams that gave Michigan State the slight edge.
The Spartans had the first power play attempt of the game after a high-sticking penalty on the Badgers. Middendorf cashed in on the man advantage, ripping a one-timer from the face-off circle to secure an early 1-0 lead.
Wisconsin had its turn on the power play 13 minutes into the first period after an interference call on sophomore forward Kyle Haskins. The Badgers kept it in the Spartans offensive zone for a majority of the man advantage, but they did not manage to get many quality shots off.
In the second period, Wisconsin continued to have troubles completing quality setups, either whiffing on the shot or missing a pass.
A charging call on junior forward Jagger Joshua gave the Badgers a chance to finish on those offensive opportunities. But again, the Spartan penalty kill came up big, blocking shots and mucking up lanes at the front of the net.
Thirteen minutes into the second period, fifth year forward Mitchell Lewandowski forced a turnover at the blue line and slung the puck across the slot to Jeremy Davidson, who banged in a one-timer to extend MSU’s lead to two.
A couple of penalties by Michigan State gave Wisconsin a five-on-three, then a five-on-four power play attempt in the final two minutes of the second period. Although MSU stopped the two-man advantage, Wisconsin nabbed its first goal of the game just a few seconds into the following power play.
Michigan State had its second power play of the game cut short in the third period after yet another penalty. The penalty kill stifled Wisconsin’s fourth power play of the game, protecting the one goal lead.
Michigan State had another shot on the power play just a few minutes later. Despite some great looks on offense, Wisconsin’s goaltender made some stellar saves and kept the game within one.
Wisconsin turned up the pressure on offense in the second half of the third period, peppering DeRidder with shots, but Michigan State managed to find the back of the net amidst the Badgers offense. Griffin Loughran chased down a loose puck at the back of the Wisconsin net, beat his defender to the puck and slipped it to Middendorf, who netted his second goal of the game.
Wisconsin answered just over a minute later, making it a one-goal game yet again.
However, thanks to a few saves from DeRidder and a handful of blocked shots, the Badgers could not find the equalizer and MSU skated away with a 3-2 victory.
The Spartans return to Munn tomorrow night at 8 p.m., looking to complete the series sweep. The game will be steamed on BTN+.
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