University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team (11-7, 9-5 Big Ten) finished a series sweep of the Michigan State Spartans (6-10-2, 5-10-1 Big Ten) on Saturday afternoon in dominating fashion, outscoring the Spartans 4-1 in game two and by a stunning 10-1 margin in the series.
The strong offensive production was led by Cole Caufield, Dylan Holloway and Linus Weissbach. The line of Caufield, Holloway and Weissbach combined for an eye popping 16 points over the two game series with seven goals and nine assists. Unsurprisingly, Caufield led the trio with four goals and three assists over the series.
Game one started off on a strong note for the Badgers — only 54 seconds into the game, Caufield found the net, with assists from Weissbach and Holloway on the power play goal. The goal extended Caufield’s point streak to nine straight games and gave him the leading scorer mark atop the Big Ten.
Just twelve seconds before the goal, he was kneed and had to step off the ice to see an athletic trainer.
Three minutes following Cole’s goal, from a Jesper Peltonen and Roman Ahcan play, his Brock Caufield extended the Badgers’ lead to 2-0 with a shot bouncing off a Spartan’s stick and into the net.
Holloway also managed to score, thanks to assists from Brock Caufield and Ahcan, to end the period with a 3-0 Wisconsin lead.
Fourteen minutes into the second period, Cole Caufield scored his second goal of the night — with help from Ty Pelton-Byce and Tyler Inamotoand — and just minutes later, Pelton-Byce gave the Badgers another point on a power play goal, with Ahcann and Holloway getting the assist. This allowed them to go into the intermission with a comfortable 5-0 lead.
The third period began with a new Michigan State goalie, freshman Pierce Charleson. This substitution marked only the second time all season their starter, junior Drew DeRidder, had not been the goalie on the ice.
The change, however, would not stop the Badgers from doing their thing. Holloway found the goal for the second time after receiving a pass from Cole Caufield and deking-out Charleson. This was his first two goal game for the Badgers.
Even with an empty net, the Spartans were unable to score, allowing Wisconsin to walk away with the 6-0 win — their third shutout this season.
This marked the first game since the mid-season intermission that the team played truly in sync with one another, evident by the fact that five different Badgers (Cole Caufield, Brock Caufield, Holloway, Ahcan and Pelton-Byce) recorded two or more points in the game. Cole Caufield echoed this message after the game, giving credit to every single player on the ice.
“As a whole, we’re getting pucks in and changing for the next guys out there so we put them in a good situation to have success,” Cole Caufield said. “They don’t always end up as goals but when the puck is on our stick and we’re not in the d-zone, we’re playing well and the goals will come along with it. I’m really happy with how our team played tonight.”
While the Badger offense was on fire with 50 total shots, Badger defense made sure Michigan State couldn't say the same — only 19 shots were allowed against Wisconsin graduate transfer goalie Robbie Beydoun, all of which he saved to record his second shutout of the season. Beydoun portrayed a similar message to Cole Caufield’s.
“We’re just enjoying coming to the rink every day, whether it’s practice or a game. Everyone is coming into the rink with a smile on their face, just grateful to be playing the game” Beydoun stated. “We know we have a really good team, a really fast team, and it’s just fun hockey to play.”
Game two was a complete defensive breakdown for Michigan State as they allowed the top two scorers for the Badgers to get in great position, and a play that you’ve come to expect from the likes of Caufield and Weissbach. Both players have shown enough scoring prowess with the puck that they should now be considered among the conference’s elite.
Holloway also had a productive series and extended his point-scoring streak to six games this series — he’s scored three goals and eight assists over that period. Holloway showcased plenty of coordinated passing this series as he led the team in assists this series.
His play of the day on Saturday came where he and Weissbach were passing the puck around the perimeter waiting for a lane to clear for Caufield so Holloway could pass to him, setting up an easy half-wall shot.
Even with the significant production from the offense, the defense of the Badgers was no slouch in the series either. Michigan State seemed to be playing with a different edge in the second game of the series as they were flying around a lot more.
However, the Badgers defense remained up to task as they only allowed one goal the entire series; the Spartans’ only tally all weekend came in the final three minutes of game two. Goalie Cameron Rowe earned the starting spot this game after Robbie Beydoun had pitched a shut-out in the previous game. Rowe allowed only one goal on 17 shots by the Spartans.
Defensemen Tyler Inamato along with team captain Ty Emberson led the defensive effort and although their performances will not show up in a big way in any box scores, their strong efforts defensively should be noted.
Wisconsin will return to the ice this Friday when they take on the top-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers after knocking them off their historic undefeated streak earlier in the season. If Wisconsin performs well next weekend, it could cement this season as the best under Tony Granato’s tenure as a head coach as well as put them above the Gophers as the team to beat in the conference.
You can catch the game on Fox Sports Wisconsin or on 1310 WIBA on the radio as the Badgers head to Minnesota in a colossal Big Ten matchup.