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Michigan State Hockey Beats Wisconsin, Wins Big Ten Championship

The Spartans are regular season champions of the Big Ten after taking down the Badgers in Madison!

Leading Wisconsin by a mere two points in the Big Ten conference standings, Michigan State men's ice hockey traveled to Madison this weekend for a two-game series against the Badgers which would determine the 2023-24 champion of the Big Ten.

However, the Spartans needed only one game to clinch the title for themselves.

Michigan State defeated Wisconsin, 5-2, on Friday night to clinch its first ever Big Ten regular season championship in the league's 11-year hockey history. It's the Spartans first conference championship in 23 years, having last won a league title in 2001 while competing in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

Michigan State got off to a tough start when the Badgers put the puck in the back of the net just 47 seconds into the game, but the Spartans responded. Freshman defenseman Artyom Levshunov put MSU on the board at the 14:32 mark in the first period, The Spartans took the lead near the end of the opening frame on a goal from senior forward Jeremy Davidson off an assist from senior Reed Lebster.

After Wisconsin evened things up midway through the second period, Michigan State took the lead for good in the third when Lebster found the net off an assist from Levshunov with 7:10 left on the clock. The Spartans added two empty net goals from Davidson and sophomore forward Tiernan Shoudy in the final two minutes to close out the Badgers and clinch the conference crown. Freshman goaltender Trey Augustine was excellent in the net for MSU with 44 saves on the night.

Winning the Big Ten regular season championship is just the latest feat of the remarkable turnaround Michigan State hockey has experienced under second-year head coach Adam Nightingale. Just 22 months ago, Nightingale took over a program that was reeling, having suffered seven consecutive losing seasons and not finished above .500 in Big Ten play since 2014-15. In his first year, Nightingale led Michigan State to an 18-18-2 record overall, with an 8-12 mark in Big Ten play. In Year 2, he's led the Spartans to 22-8-3 overall and a conference title with a 16-5-2 record in Big Ten play.

Michigan State concludes its regular season tonight against the Badgers, but has already secured the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament. The Spartans have a first round bye and will play the winner of Notre Dame and Michigan in the second round of the tournament.

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