Monday, November 28, 2022

Middendorf nets four, St. Cyr earns commanding shutout as MSU hockey thrashes Wisconsin

November 5, 2022
<p>Senior forward Erik Middendorf (24) chases after the puck during a game of ice hockey between MSU and Wisconsin at Munn Ice Arena on Nov. 4, 2022. The Spartans won, 5-0. Middendorf scored four of the goals.</p>

Senior forward Erik Middendorf (24) chases after the puck during a game of ice hockey between MSU and Wisconsin at Munn Ice Arena on Nov. 4, 2022. The Spartans won, 5-0. Middendorf scored four of the goals.

Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

Prior to Friday night, the Spartans' leading goal scorer from last year had yet to score a goal this season.

Senior forward Erik Middendorf walked away from MSU’s 5-0 shutout victory over Wisconsin with four, his career-high.

“It's easy to get frustrated when you score 12 (goals) last year and then coming to this season you're waiting to get your first and it's been eight games, so it's easy to get frustrated,” Middendorf said. “I think with the coaching staff that we have now, helping me out, supporting me, it was easy to keep my game and just wait for it, and (I) thank my linemates for sticking with me there.”

Middendorf scored his first two goals just 15 seconds apart halfway through the first period, putting MSU up 2-0 and sending the crowd at Munn Ice Arena into a frenzy. 

Completion of Middendorf’s natural hat trick came from a one-timer during a power play 13:23 into the second period.

“I think that was kind of just a scramble of the power play,” Middendorf said. “We didn't really get anything going and we had that breakaway chance for the other team where they ripped one pass Dylan (St. Cyr)'s ear off the crossbar. So it was an ugly power play, and I think that once we got set up, I was just looking to get stuff to the net, it had already been like a minute, and I just got lucky with getting it off quick and beat him into the postside."

He earned his fourth and final goal on the night by skillfully flipping the puck over Wisconsin goaltender Jared Moe and defenseman Dominick Mersch at the 6:10 minute mark in the third. 

“(Middendorf is) a guy that has a history of producing,” Head Coach Adam Nightingale said. “He's just gotta keep doing things the right way, and he has been, and I think it's good to see a player get rewarded. When you look at him stopping at the net, one-timing the puck, not catching it and taking his time with it – those are all scoring habits and (he) certainly has those.”

Middendorf is the first MSU player to score four goals in a single game since Sean Berens in a 6-1 victory over Northern Michigan on January 10, 1998.

He came just shy of tying Michigan State’s record for most goals in a game by one player, which is five. It has only been achieved four times, with the last player to reach it being Mike Donnelly versus Ohio State on Dec. 14, 1985. 

In addition to his four goals Friday night, Middendorf has recorded 14 shots thus far and one assist from MSU’s game versus Long Island University on Oct. 22. He currently leads the team with a .286 shot percentage. 

The results of this game were eerily similar to the first meeting in last season’s series between Michigan State and Wisconsin in East Lansing. Middendorf netted two of MSU’s three goals that night, carrying the Spartans to a 3-2 victory.

Last season, Middendorf ranked third in points among the Spartans with 20, leading MSU with 12 goals, 84 shots on goal and a .143 shot percentage. Among the Big Ten, he was tied for fifth in both game-winning goals (4) and power play goals (4).

Before coming to MSU, Middendorf spent two seasons at Colorado College. He appeared in all 41 games and put up 11 points, including one power play and three game-winning goals in the 2018-19 season. During the 2019-20 season, Middendorf played in six games recording two assists and four penalty minutes before returning to the Chicago Steel in the USHL. 

Middendorf served as a captain for the Steel and helped lead the team to the 2021 Clark Cup title. He also won a pair of Anderson Cups with Chicago in 2020 and 2021. In his first season with the Steel, Middendorf scored 24 points in 32 games and ranked fourth in points with 68, and second in goals with 32 in the USHL in 2020-21.

St. Cyr heating up

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While Middendorf put on a show-stopping performance on the offensive side of the puck, graduate transfer goaltender Dylan St. Cyr had a season-high 44 saves to shutout the Badgers. It was St. Cyr’s 11th career shutout (his first as a Spartan), falling short of his personal best of 46 saves against Denver on Oct. 13, 2017.

“I think it was kind of a team effort to play really good team defense, and though we're given up a lot of shots, keeping into the outside and making it very predictable,” St. Cyr said. “I think we're kind of cleaning up a lot of the backdoor plays that we'd seen earlier on in the season and kind of just making it a lot easier for me to predict that shot.”

Last Friday, St. Cyr made his return to Notre Dame, but allowed five goals in a forgettable performance from the entire team. However, he got the starting nod the very next night, and since then has allowed just one goal in the last two games — both leading to four points for the Spartans.

Nightingale said he attributes St. Cyr’s previous collegiate experience at Notre Dame and Quinnipiac to his success.

“One of the things we talked about when Dylan was looking at coming is the chance for … a kid from Michigan to make an impact on a big time program,” Nightingale said. “I think he's got a ton of confidence from years of doing it the right way, and we're glad he's on our team that's rubbing off on other guys.”

The Spartans are now 5-3-1 overall and 1-1-1 in Big Ten play. Michigan State and Wisconsin will wrap up the series Saturday night at Munn Ice Arena as the Spartans look to sweep the Badgers.

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