Men's hockey

Badgers overcome second period lapses with lockdown defense once again to beat Michigan State

Senior captain Peter Tischke scored the game-winning goal with 12 minutes left in the game to help Wisconsin collect a win against Michigan State Friday night.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger and Cameron Lane-Flehinger

For the second time in two games, Wisconsin jumped out to a big lead early in the second period, before letting its opponent roar back into the game.

And for the second time in two games, the Badgers clamped down defensively in the final period and got some clutch scoring to turn a would-be nailbiter into an ultimately comfortable win.

Wisconsin (3-3-3 Big Ten, 7-7-3 overall) went up 3-0 on Michigan State (2-4-1, 6-8-1), before letting the Spartans come all the way back in the second, but senior captain Peter Tischke scored just his second goal of the year and the Badgers held on for a 5-3 victory.

The Badgers allowed just one shot on goal in the final 20 minutes, as they smothered Michigan State’s offense with consistent puck possession and fundamentally sound defense. After just five blocked shots in the first 40 minutes, the Badgers stepped in front of seven Michigan State tries in the final period and stopped several more chances with active stick-work.

“In the second period we made some mistakes that gave them their opportunities,” head coach Tony Granato said. “I was really proud of the guys [in the third period].”

Wisconsin got on the board early, with an assist from Michigan State, as sophomore forward Sean Dhooghe stepped into a shot from the slot and wristed a shot that snuck between Spartans goaltender Drew DeRidder’s body and arm to give the Badgers a lead just over two minutes into the game.

The home team extended its lead early in the second off of some more questionable goaltending, as freshman forward Mick Messner wrapped around the back of the net with a defender on his back before throwing the puck on DeRidder’s body. Messner’s shot didn’t have much velocity on it, but it found its way through the netminder’s pads.

Freshman defenseman Ty Emberson scored less than two minutes later on a shot from the point that seemed to confuse DeRidder, as the goaltender stayed frozen with his glove up for a couple moments after the puck hit the back of the net.

The Spartans roared back, with three goals in 11 minutes to tie the game up. All three goals were scored by MSU’s top line of Mitch Lewandowski, Patrick Khodorenko and Taro Hirose.

Granato attributed the defensive lapse to a matchup issue: at the beginning of the game the coaching staff had planned to pair the third line, centered by freshman Dominick Mersch, with MSU’s top line, but failed to do so in the second period.

“[Mersch’s line] played a lot and I got away from it a little bit in the second because I wanted to have them save some energy for tomorrow and my mistake,” Granato said. “That’s probably as good a line as there is in college hockey.”

Once the Badgers sorted out their matchups, they were able to put the clamps on the Michigan State attack. The Spartans had just a single shot on goal in the final 20 minutes, and Wisconsin controlled the puck for long stretches of play.

Eventually it was Tischke who found the back of the net with 12 minutes to play off of a faceoff win by Dhooghe, the captain’s second goal of the season, both in the last two games.

“Sean [Dhooghe] had a good faceoff win and [Tarek Baker] bumped it back to me and they both went to the net and just found a lane and the goalie had no idea where it was so kudos to them,” Tischke said.

Shots from defensemen at the point were an emphasis for Wisconsin all night, exploiting Michigan State’s tightly packed defense, and it was a third defenseman who capped the scoring for the Badgers. Sophomore Wyatt Kalynuk scored three minutes after Tischke to give Wisconsin some breathing room that it would not relinquish for the rest of the game.

“They collapse low in the d-zone so we were trying to get it up to the point and forwards just did a really good job of getting to the front of the net,” Tischke said.

The win was Wisconsin’s second in a row, tying the team’s longest win streak of the season.

The Badgers and the Spartans will continue their series Saturday night at 7 pm.

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