Madison, Wis. - Michigan State’s Ryan Keller would score two goals in the first period and Thomas Ebbing would add one more in the third as the Michigan State Spartans dominated the Wisconsin Badgers, winning Saturday’s matchup 3-0.
Michigan State’s win would create a series split, with Wisconsin winning Friday night’s matchup.
The first period belonged to the Spartans in a major way.
The Badgers would start off the first period looking dangerous though.
Adam Rockwood won the puck in the neutral zone with an aggressive fore check, skated right by two Michigan State defenders and got a one on one chance against Michigan State’s Jake Hildebrand. Rockwood went backhand and Hildebrand answered the bell, recording one of his four saves in the first period.
Wisconsin would also get a chance on the power play at the 9:25 mark after Josh Jacobs was called for holding.
The power play unit for the Badgers looked dangerous but could not net a goal and it remained a scoreless tie.
Michigan State would change that at the 12:02 mark.
Rumpel was called upon to make a brilliant save on Michigan State’s Travis Walsh but the rebound popped out to the right hash marks and Junior Ryan Keller put it home to give the Spartans a one goal lead.
Michigan State was not done.
About five minutes later at the 16:43 mark of the first period Ryan Keller received a pass from Brent Darnell. He moved his way in on Rumpel, spun in the slot and slid a shot backhand past a sprawling Rumpel.
Keller’s second of the night was good enough to give Michigan State a two to zero lead after one period of play.
The Badgers did their best at stopping Michigan State’s momentum early on in the second period.
Wisconsin’s offense looked dangerous generating numerous scoring chances early in the second period.
With just about five minutes gone in the second period Joseph LaBate took a pass at center ice from Grant Besse and fired a wrist shot from the slot that glanced off the right post and out.
The Badgers shot themselves in the foot, taking a penalty shorty after when it seemed like a goal was minutes away.
Wisconsin seemed a little deflated after taking the penalty and struggled to find offense throughout the second period.
The Badgers went on two power plays during the second period of action. UW looked dangerous, setting up in Michigan State’s zone with ease but could not get the puck past Hildebrand who posted ten saves in the second period alone.
Wisconsin’s defense improved in the second period, shutting Michigan State down and not allowing a goal in the second twenty minutes of play.
Joel Rumpel was tested but stayed strong posting thirteen saves in the second period.
The Badgers remained down by two heading into the third and final period of play.
Wisconsin would have a chance to cut into Michigan State’s lead forty-five seconds into the third period after Travis Walsh was called for tripping,
The Badgers power play unit went out for their third time but could not come up with a goal or any shots on goal in the two-minute man advantage.
Michigan State would then add to their lead.
Thomas Ebbing, a left handed sophomore slid one home past Rumpel giving Michigan State a commanding three goal lead 4:57 into the period.
The Badgers would get another shot at the power play at the 9:37 mark into the third period. Wisconsin was able to generate good looks on Michigan State’s goalie, Jake Hildebrand but he stood tall maintaining the shut out.
UW head coach Mike Eaves was not pleased with his power play units
“Our skill players didn’t react well to pressure…we didn’t execute,” said Eaves following the game.
MSU netminder Hildebrand posted thirty-one saves in the win.
The Badgers would continue to attack and with just over two minutes left in the game, Eaves pulled Joel Rumpel in lieu of an extra attacker.
Rumpel would end the night with 30 saves in another losing effort.
The extra attacker looked dangerous but it was all a little too late, as UW couldn’t find a way on to the scoreboard. With the goose egg on the scoreboard, the Badgers’ two-game win streak came to an end as well.
The Badgers fell to 4-20-4 (2-10-2-2 in Big Ten) with the loss.
They take the ice against Michigan next weekend in Ann Arbor.
Despite a disappointing loss, the Badgers earned a nice series split against a solid Michigan State team.
It is extremely hard to beat a Big Ten team back to back and the Badgers just ran into a bigger, more aggressive team on Saturday.
The loss should not erase all of the positive things this team did this weekend, like winning the first game of a series and holding onto a one-goal lead late in games.
These intangibles will be what the Badgers take with them as they hit the road to Ann Arbor next weekend.