#20 Spartans Exit Weekend In 2nd Place in The Big Ten

Hondo S. Carpenter

The #20 Michigan State Spartan hockey team briefly held the Big Ten conference lead, but after a loss to the Badgers in Madison, they exit the weekend in second place. The Spartans are tied with Penn State.

Coincidentally, the Nittany Lions will be at Munn this weekend for a two game series with the Spartans. That will certainly be a playoff atmosphere.

MSU Hockey super SID Jeff Barnes had this write up about the big loss and shared it with us:

No. 20 Spartans Come Up Short at Wisconsin

 MADISON, Wisconsin – Wisconsin broke a 1-1 tie with 2:08 to play and topped the No. 20 Michigan State hockey team, 3-1, on Saturday at the Kohl Center, erasing the Spartans’ bid for a regular-season sweep of the Badgers.

The two teams each scored goals in the opening period and carried a 1-1 tie all the way to the closing minutes. Just after the Spartans had a chance to go ahead off a play in front of the Wisconsin net, UW’s Roman Ahcan got the eventual game-winner seconds later off a rush. Ahcan crossed the blue line, cut to the middle of the slot and wristed the puck through a crowd and past goaltender John Lethemon.

Ty Pelton-Byce added an empty-net goal with 1:22 to play.

Wisconsin (9-12-1, 4-9-1-1) got its first goal of the weekend 26 seconds into the first period as Owen Lindmark got ahold of a loose puck in the low slot and was able to bat it past Lethemon.

Michigan State (12-11-1, 8-5-1-0) responded quickly, stringing together a handful of quality chances and tied it at the 7:52 mark when Sam Saliba scored his fifth goal in the last six games to make it 1-1. Gianluca Esteves got the puck to Saliba in the left circle and he let a shot fly that went over the shoulder of goaltender Daniel Lebedeff.

“You give up a goal on the first shift and that can be tough to battle back from, but we did and got on the board and I thought we pressed through and got it into a tight game at the end of the third,” Spartan head coach Danton Cole said. “We had the puck all alone right in front of the net and couldn’t get it to go, so it’s a tough one.

 “You have to bounce back and that’s what our guys have to do on Monday and start getting ready for Penn State.”

Neither team scored in the second, but it was the Spartans that carried the play in the latter stages of the period, generating several opportunities. MSU came closest to pulling ahead when Mitchell Lewandowski rang a shot off the crossbar from the high slot with over four minutes to play.

UW finished with a 38-25 edge in shots on goal, while neither team scored on the power play as MSU was 0-for-3 and Wisconsin 0-for-4.

Michigan State is tied with Penn State for second place in the Big Ten and the two teams will face each other next weekend on Friday (7 p.m.) and Saturday (6 p.m.) at Munn.

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