Michigan State hockey dropped its third and fourth consecutive games this weekend with a 5-2 and 3-2 loss to Wisconsin at the Kohl Center.
With the weekend sweep, Wisconsin (8-13-3) leapfrogged Michigan State (11-12-1) in the Big Ten standings. Here's how it all went down:
The first game featured some early fireworks with ice tilted in the Badgers' favor.
Michigan State netted two goals on its own net in its last series and started this weekend’s series with more bad puck luck just three and a half minutes into the match. Wisconsin freshman forward Liam Malmquist played the puck behind the net of senior goaltender Drew DeRidder, who got the starting nod after sophomore goaltender Pierce Charleson got the start last Saturday. Malmquist blindly played the puck out front, which then deflected off of sophomore defenseman Aiden Gallacher’s skate and slowly trickled into the back of the net.
Despite three minutes of power play time to begin the period, it took nine minutes for Michigan State to register its first test on Wisconsin junior goaltender Jared Moe. One minute later, the Spartans converted an odd-man rush on a top shelf shot by senior defenseman Dennis Cesana. His sixth goal of the season knotted the game at 1-1.
The Badgers were quick to erase their memories and responded with a pair of goals just 38 seconds apart. The first came from sophomore forward Mathieu De St. Phalle, who gathered the puck unmarked in front of the net, switched to his forehand and shoveled the puck past DeRidder. The second came breakout freshman defenseman Corson Ceulemans. A shot from the point by the Wisconsin point leader narrowly snuck in between the pipes for his 15th point of the season.
A team that came into Friday night averaging a measly 1.95 goals per game put up a three spot in the opening period and led 3-1 through 20 minutes.
MSU tacked on one goal early in the second on a shot from the slot by junior forward Erik Middendorf, his third goal in two games. The remainder of the middle period was played to a stalemate, mostly due to horrid offense from the Spartans and big stops from DeRidder. Senior forward Mitchell Lewandowski missed his third consecutive game and junior forward Griffin Loughran was unavailable too as MSU squeezed out just 12 shots on goal through 40 minutes.
Michigan State played its best it had all night in the third period, outshooting Wisconsin 18-9. A power play nearly seven minutes into the period gave MSU five shots on goal, four of which came from the team’s leader in power play goals, sophomore forward Jeremy Davidson, but Moe stood tall in the net.
The penalty killed by the Badgers flipped the momentum around and the Spartans played in a frustrated manner for the remainder of the game. Freshman defenseman David Gucciardi, who looked lost all night long, took two penalties in the span of six minutes and the Wisconsin power play that converted at just a 14.3% clip heading into the night scored to make it 4-2.
At that point, Michigan State had completely checked out of Friday’s game in Madison. The Badgers scored another power play goal with under two minutes to play after MSU attempted for multiple seconds to play with seven men on the ice and the Spartans took the 5-2 defeat.
After an unexpected offensive outburst Friday evening, Saturday’s match brought more of the same late in the game.
Both teams spent extended periods of time in the first period on the power play. Wisconsin senior forward Roman Ahcan received a five-minute major and game misconduct for contact to the head of junior forward Jagger Joshua, but the MSU power play could not generate any quality scoring chances with Lewandowski out of the lineup for the fourth night in a row. The Spartans committed three minor penalties themselves in the period, but the Badgers below-average power play could not crack Charleson.
After 30 minutes of play, Michigan State’s fourth line was the one to finally break the scoreless drought.
Senior forward Mitchell Mattson — who has been in and out of the lineup all season — won the offensive zone draw. Mattson flipped the puck back to Gallacher who passed it off to Gucciardi and ripped a shot from the point, but a pass would have sufficed too as it ricocheted off the back wall to the stick of senior forward Adam Goodsir to the right of Moe. Goodsir reached back around the net and beat Moe to the other post for a successful wraparound try, his first goal of the season.
The Spartans’ 1-0 lead was short-lived, 62 seconds to be exact, when Cesana and senior defenseman Christian Krygier got caught napping. The two took Gucciardi and Gallacher’s place as the defensive pair that was a mess Saturday night. Wisconsin senior forward Max Johnson snuck in behind the defense and tied the game back up.
Two and a half minutes later a shot from Middendorf met the pads of Moe, but MSU had a player crashing toward the net, senior defenseman Cole Krygier of all people. He lifted the rebound up over the shoulder of Moe and Michigan State took a 2-1 lead headed to the third period.
The Spartans had a chance to extend the lead with an early third-period power play. MSU kept the puck in the zone for the entire two minutes, but uncreative passes led to few juicy chances.
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Shortly after, sophomore forward Kyle Haskins got his turn with a five-minute major and game misconduct for contact to the head. Unlike Michigan State, Wisconsin capitalized on the extended time with an extra attacker. First, it was a rifle from senior forward Brock Caufield that tied the game up at 2-2. A little over a minute later, De St. Phalle scored his third goal of the series and the game winner.
Michigan State will head back to East Lansing with hopes to not let the season free fall as they welcome the much improved Ohio State Buckeyes to town.
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