Wisconsin scored two goals on four shots in the second period of the No. 18 Badgers’ 6-3 win over Michigan State and led the Spartans 5-1 by the 10:02 mark of the second period. That was the story of Friday’s game, at least from the perspective of Tom Anastos.
“We came into the weekend preparing all week on how important it was not to turn the puck over,” said the Michigan State coach. “We obviously didn’t do a very good job with that.”
Trent Frederic opened the scoring at 5:28, a nice backhander from the slot on a play that began with Max Zimmer stealing the puck in the neutral zone. After another turnover, Luke Kunin forced his way to the net for his 16th of the season at 8:45. Will Johnson’s power-play goal at 15:05 gave the Badgers a 3-0 lead after the first.
In the second period, the Badgers went up 4-0 after Matthew Freytag stole the puck in the corner and fed Aidan Cavallini, who was crashing the net, at 6:11. For the first two periods, Wisconsin took advantage of nearly every opportunity.
“We did a lot of things well,” said Wisconsin coach Tony Granato. “We scored five goals, we made the plays when we had to. I thought the first two periods defensively, we played really, really solid.”
In spite of outshooting the Badgers 8-4 in the second, the Spartans had just one goal to show for it, Patrick Khodorenko’s first of the night. Michigan State outscored Wisconsin 2-1 in the third period with Khodorenko and Sam Saliba scoring goals less than three minutes apart in the middle of the stanza, but Michigan State couldn’t sustain a rally.
The Badgers missed a couple of empty-net chances before Frederic’s second of the night at 19:48, a goal that Frederic nursed down the ice to the empty crease to be sure of hitting the net.
“They played hard, that’s for sure” said Granato. “They kept coming and got themselves back in the game. I loved the way we started. We did what we needed to do early in the game and sometimes when you get that lead, you back off a little bit.”
Said Anastos, “Our best players weren’t our best players tonight, and it’s hard to win when that’s the case. You can’t play 10 of 60 minutes and expect to give yourself a chance.”
After the first period, Anastos swapped John Lethemon for starter Ed Minney in net. “I made the goaltending change not because I was so unhappy with Ed, but just to try to create change.”
Wisconsin’s Jack Berry had 20 saves in his seventh win of the season.
Wisconsin (14-8-1, 7-2-0-0 Big Ten) and Michigan State (5-16-2, 1-7-1-0 Big Ten) meet again Saturday at 7 p.m. at Munn Ice Arena. Granato said that the way the Spartans played in the third period is something to watch for in the rematch.
“They came back in the third, fought like crazy, so I think it woke us up to the standpoint that we’ve got to be ready to play 60 (minutes) tomorrow and be ready for the start of the game because I’m sure they’ll come out and start the way they finished,” he said.
Big Ten roundup
At No. 7 Minnesota 5, No. 6 Penn State 1
Freshman Rem Pitlick ended a six-game scoring drought with two goals in Minnesota’s win over Penn State. Several Golden Gophers had multi-point games, with sophomore Tyler Sheehy scoring a goal and registering two assists to lead Minnesota in scoring. The Gophers led 4-1 at the end of the second after scoring three goals in the period, including Pitlick’s two scored less than four minutes apart before the five-minute mark of the stanza. Trevor Hamilton had Penn State’s only goal at 8:42 in the second. Minnesota goalie Eric Schierhorn had 28 saves in the game plus an assist on Mike Szmatula’s third-period goal. With the win, Minnesota (16-7-2, 7-2-0-0 Big Ten) remains tied for first place with Wisconsin. The Gophers and the Nittany Lions (16-5-2, 5-3-1-0 Big Ten) play again Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in Mariucci Arena.
At Michigan 5, Ohio State 4
Michigan sophomore Cooper Marody who missed the first half of the season because of academic ineligibility, scored his first three goals of the season for his first career hat trick as the Wolverines held off visiting Ohio State. Trailing 5-1 at the start of the third, the Buckeyes scored three unanswered goals before the halfway point of the third period – two nine seconds apart in the first 17 seconds of the third. Three of Ohio State’s four goals came on the power play, as did Marody’s game-winning goal at 16:04 in the second, scored when the teams were playing four-on-three. Freshman Hayden Lavigne made 25 saves. The Buckeyes (12-7-6, 3-5-1-1 Big Ten) and Wolverines (9-12-2, 2-6-1-1 Big Ten) meet again Saturday at 7:35 p.m. in Yost Ice Arena.