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Badgers hockey swept in dramatic fashion by visiting Spartans

No one can accuse this Badgers team of quitting, but effort hasn’t equaled positive results for Mike Eaves’ crew this season. That was once again on display in the series finale against Michigan State, as the Badgers saw a comeback attempt turn in to a late 3-1 third period loss.

After battling back from an opening goal by Michigan State, Wisconsin let plenty of its own chances fall by the wayside. Eventually MSU’s patience paid off as Mackenzi MacEachern netted a pair of late third period goals to lead the Spartans to a road sweep of the Badgers.

The sweep all but assured Wisconsin of last place in the Big Ten regular season standings and a date with a dangerous third seed in the Big Ten conference tournament in a few weeks time.

Wisconsin came out ready for a physical contest and dominated most of the offensive action in the 1st period. However, a defensive mistake late in the period nullified any of the hard work the Badgers did offensively.

Defender Eddie Wittchow went to the sin bin for interference at the 17:26 mark of the period. Just under 90 seconds later, MSU’s Michael Ferrantino easily redirected a pass in front of Jurusik for a power play goal and a 1-0 lead.

Jurusik would show his mettle throughout the night though, saving 19 of 21 shots faced and being sharp when called upon for most of the night.

Ferrantino’s eighth of the season came at the 18:54 mark of the first period and effectively killed any momentum Wisconsin was building heading in to the intermission.

The period ended with the two teams tied in shots at 7-7, but Wisconsin forced MSU to have to block eight other shots in what was a physically demanding period for the visitors.

It was a trend for the Spartans defensive effort on the night, as they blocked 18 shots in total and goaltender Jake Hildebrand stopped 26 of 27 shots by the Badgers.

Wisconsin and Michigan State skated through a relatively uneventful second period, as both teams missed power play opportunities and some short-handed chances as well.

MSU did manage to outshoot the Badgers 9-7 in the second period, but few of those shots gave either netminder much of a scare.

That meant the Badgers entered the final stanza having to do something it hasn’t done all season if it wanted to avoid the cellar of the Big Ten — win a game after trailing going in to the third period.

Down 1-0, the Badgers continued to do what they had been doing all night long and eventually it paid off. As the Badgers continued to physically pressure MSU’s defense it allowed a trio of Badgers to crash the net on a continuous basis.

That trio turned a spilled save by Hildebrand in to plenty of opportunities with just over seven minutes gone in the 3rd period. It was Seamus Malone who was on point though, slamming home the bouncing rebound from point-blank range at the 7:06 mark of the third period.

It was just his fourth of the season and also saw Jedd Soleway erase a long scoring drought, as Adam Rockwood and he were credited for assists on the goal.

Wisconsin had a major opportunity with just over five minutes to go, as Michigan State was called for roughing while already on the penalty kill. UW looked at a 5-on-3 opportunity for 1:02, but outside of a quick wrister from Grant Besse and a big-time redirect from Cameron Hughes, there wasn’t much to write home about.

Things went quickly downhill after that missed opportunity for the Badgers, as MacEachern put the game-winner home from in front of the net at the 18:24 mark.

He would add an empty-netter with less than 30 seconds left to leave no doubt about it, putting him on 12 goals for the season.

Wisconsin will head to Columbus to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in a two-game series next weekend. Friday night’s affair gets going at 5:30p.m. CT and is televised on BTN.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com