Men's hockey

Suffocating defense powers Wisconsin to 3-0 win over Michigan State

Sophomore forward Sean Dhooghe scored two goals, the second with just 26.2 seconds remaining in overtime, to give Wisconsin a needed three points in the Big Ten standings

Image By: Téalin Robinson

At least Wisconsin has hockey, right?

After a disappointing day from both men’s basketball and volleyball, both the men's and women’s hockey teams came out of the day with dominant victories.

While the women won their game 3-1 this afternoon, the Badger men (4-3-3 Big Ten, 8-7-3 overall) defeated Michigan State (2-5-1, 6-9-1) for the second straight night by a final score of 3-0.

Coming into Saturday night’s contest, Wisconsin had put up the first goal in each of its last five games, and Sean Dhooghe made sure the Badgers went up 1-0 for a sixth time.

Dhooghe and sophomore winger Linus Weissbach saw déjà vu in the opening minutes in the first period when, for the second night in a row, Dhooghe buried a shot on the right side of the ice off a pass from Weissbach just two minutes in. 

“We worked hard this week in practice, and that translated to the ice [this weekend],” Dhooghe said of the offensive effort. It was Dhooghe’s second goal and fourth point of the weekend.

The Badgers never looked back from there, outpacing Michigan State on the ice all night.

The Badgers racked up 19 shots on goal in the first, compared to just four Michigan State chances.

“I felt really good about our first period,” said head coach Tony Granato of the shot disparity. “You come out of it up in the period and feel in control of the game.”

That dominance in the first period continued in the second when the Badger defense held Michigan State to just four more shots on goal in the second. That marked the third time in three periods of play the Badger defense held its opponent to four shots on goal or less after accomplishing that only once in the first 50 periods of play to start the season.

Wisconsin’s block numbers were modest all night as well as Badger defensemen suffocated Michigan State before they could even get in their offensive third.

In the opening minute third, freshman defenseman K’Andre Miller found the back of the net off a pass from Dhooghe at the end of a power play for Wisconsin to put the home team up 2-0.

The third proved to be more of a grind than the previous two periods, despite the early goal, as Michigan State’s offense finally came to life. But the Badger defense clamped down and held the Spartan’s scoreless all period, marking just the second shutout victory since last January. It also marked freshman goalkeeper Daniel Lebedeff’s first career collegiate shutout after he stopped all 21 shots attempted by Michigan State. 

Granato praised Lebedeff’s effort after the game saying, “[Daniel] showed how sharp he is tonight; it was an important game for him and for us.”

The win tonight also marked the first Badger sweep in 28 series.

With two seconds remaining, senior forward Malone sprinted the length of the ice to tap in an empty net goal for the Badgers, and the final score ended up as a 3-0 victory.

It was a good way to go into the break for the Badgers, who needed a sweep this weekend to legitimize themselves as a top Big Ten contender. 

“It was a big win for us, [especially] Daniel Lebedeff played outstanding” said Granato.

Wisconsin is now tied for first in the Big Ten standings with Ohio State, and is over .500 for the first time in a month.

The Badgers play next on Jan. 4 and 5 at home versus Denver.

“We have to do things right in these next four weeks,” said Dhooghe, “so we can pick back up right where we left off.”

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