Michigan State hockey makes a huge statement, sweeps No. 1 Wisconsin

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Emily Martin

The Michigan State hockey team took on the No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers in a high-stakes battle this weekend at Munn Ice Arena, sweeping the Badgers by scores of 4-2 and 3-2. 

This season the Spartans are riding a 10-3-1 record, and currently hold a 5-0-1 record in the Big Ten. MSU opened up the season strong with a home opener sweep against Lake Superior State, then stumbled in a loss against Air Force on the first night of their two-day matchup. 

They worked tirelessly to prove themselves throughout this season, and shined bright against top-ranked Badgers with a packed house both nights. 

The Spartans found their rhythm over the past few weeks and made the Badgers work for their time in Munn Ice Arena. Friday night, the Spartans led 1-0 in the first period, but Wisconsin knotted it up halfway through the second period. 

MSU proved their speed and puck management throughout the game, scoring two additional goals in the second period with a power play goal by sophomore forward Joey Larson and a clean net by junior forward Tanner Kelly. 

Wisconsin returned with another goal but was still not enough to take the lead, when senior forward Jeremy Davidson drills the empty netter with two minutes left in the game to finish with 4-2 on the board. 

The two teams returned on Saturday night, ready for another intense battle in East Lansing. The Spartans were dialed in, with great efforts from freshman forward Tommi Mannisto and sophomore forward Isaac Howard in the first period. 

Eight minutes into the period, Davidson secured a goal for MSU leading the game 1-0. Wisconsin received a penalty for tripping, and the Spartans tried to take advantage of the time, with freshman defenseman Artyom Levshunov and fifth-year forward Nicolas Müller on top of the puck, keeping it in the Badgers’ end. 

Taking the ice for the second period, sophomore forward Tiernan Shoudy and freshman defenseman Austin Oravetz came in hot, matching Wisconsin’s aggression. Mannisto took possession of the puck quite a bit in the second period but shot short of the net. 

Most of the 20 minutes remained scoreless with neither team being able to get the puck, until one minute remained and Wisconsin scored, tying the score 1-1. 

For his sixth goal of the season, Larson banked a goal for MSU with 18:05 on the clock, with assists by Oravetz and freshman defenseman Maxim Štrbák. The Spartans took the lead 2-1 and were able to keep the puck in the Badger’s end yet again for the majority of the third period. 

Wisconsin was able to connect with more shots on goal than the Spartans,  but nearly all of them were not able to get past freshman goaltender Trey Augustine. 

With about three minutes left in the game, senior defenseman Nash Nienhuis lit the lamp for yet another MSU goal. Wisconsin scored with one minute left but it wasn’t enough to pull ahead of the Spartans.

“Wisconsin had a push in the second [period], we talked about it in between periods and we knew we were gonna come out ready to go in the third and then push back,” Nienhuis said. “That’s exactly what we did.”

Michigan State completed the sweep over the top team in the nation, and will look to continue their success as they travel to Minneapolis to take on No. 6 Minnesota on Nov. 24 and 26.

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