There was no way to predict how Michigan State would come out Friday night. Just four days after three MSU students were killed and five others were critically injured on-campus, the No. 17 Spartans powered their way to a 6-2 statement win over Wisconsin.
Before the game, a moment of silence was held at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin to honor the victims of Monday’s shooting. MSU sticks were also taped with the names of the victims, while members of the Wisconsin student section held signs reading “Spartan Strong.”
“It obviously means a lot," MSU Head Coach Adam Nightingale said after the win. "The respect that (Wisconsin) showed to not only our team, but to our school and our community, it was obviously a hard week for everyone. I’m proud of our guys to come out there and play the way they did.”
Senior forward Erik Middendorf, who scored four goals in one game against Wisconsin earlier in the season, diced the Badgers up again Friday night with three assists. Graduate transfer goaltender Dylan St. Cyr overcame a woeful second period turnover to make 33 saves and earn his 15th win of the season, while senior forward Nicolas Müller and freshman defenseman Matt Basgall also had three points on the night.
With the win, MSU can clinch home-ice advantage for the Big Ten Tournament with a regulation win Saturday night over Wisconsin and a Minnesota regulation win over Penn State.
The Spartans nearly started the game disastrously. Less than four minutes in, fifth-year defenseman Cole Krygier received an obvious five-minute major penalty and game misconduct for contact to the head. Michigan State stayed determined though, with a systematic penalty kill that allowed just two Wisconsin shots on goal.
38 seconds later, MSU got on the board when junior forward Jeremy Davidson fed red-hot Müller out front for his seventh goal of the season and seventh point in the last six games.
From there on, Michigan State poured it on offensively for the remainder of the first period, scoring two more goals and another that got wiped away.
At 15:21, Müller scooped up the puck from behind the Wisconsin net off a miserable Badger turnover, and played it in front for Middendorf for a 2-0 lead. Wisconsin immediately challenged the goal and it was quickly overturned after it was deemed Middendorf kicked the puck into the net.
MSU then responded 14 seconds later, when junior forward Zach Dubinsky scored his first as a Spartan on a deflection from Basgall’s shot from the point.
Michigan State went back to the penalty kill when senior forward Jagger Joshua took a cross-checking minor, but the Spartans were able to overcome a horrid turnover by freshman defenseman Viktor Hurtig, who dressed as the extra skater but was badly needed after Krygier’s early game misconduct.
Just 35 seconds later, MSU extended its lead to 3-0 when sophomore defenseman David Gucciardi walked into the slot and unleashed a highlight reel toe drag to beat junior goaltender Kyle McClellan.
McClellan’s night lasted only 10:15 into the second period after MSU added two more goals in the frame. Wisconsin scored twice in the period, however both goals were answered by the Spartans less than two minutes later.
The Badgers made it 3-1 on a power-play goal from freshman defenseman Tyson Jugnauth, but Hurtig scored his first collegiate goal when he joined a 4-on-2 rush and slammed home an in-stride crossing pass from Middendorf.
Wisconsin then got a goal back at 9:08 when St. Cyr committed an unusually bad turnover when he played the puck behind the net, setting up an easy goal for sophomore forward Zach Urdahl. 1:13 later, a tenacious forecheck by the Spartan second line of Middendorf, Müller and Davidson forced another Badger turnover for a Davidson goal from the right circle. McClellan finished the night with just eight saves on 13 shots.
Senior goaltender Jared Moe took over in net, helping settle the game down for Wisconsin.
Michigan State extended the lead to 6-2 at 11:44 of the third period on a tap-in power-play goal from Jagger. The remainder of the game was rather uneventful, with MSU buttoning it up defensively to move to 16-15-2.
The Spartans will go for their fourth win on the season over Wisconsin Saturday night at 8 p.m.
“It’s always hard to sweep a team, especially on the road," Middendorf said. "They are gonna have senior night here too, so they got something to play for. But what we got to play for is obviously a lot bigger than that. We gotta play for our community, our alumni and everyone that bleeds green. We’re playing for the people that we lost Monday night and the families that we continue to pray for. I’m just excited to be a Spartan and I am honored to go out and play tomorrow.”
Support student media!
Please consider donating to The State News and help fund the future of journalism.