MADISON, Wisconsin – The Michigan State hockey team picked up a weekend sweep with a 3-1 victory over Wisconsin on Saturday night at the Kohl Center. Mackenzie MacEachern broke a 1-1 tie with 1:36 to play in the game and added an empty-netter 1:13 later to seal the win.
A night after Matt DeBlouw scored the game-winning goal in the closing minutes, MacEachern played the hero role on Saturday. The play started when winger Joe Cox forced a turnover and got the puck out to Thomas Ebbing in the neutral zone on the right side. Ebbing then spotted a streaking MacEachern down the middle of the ice, hitting with a perfect pass. MacEachern went in nearly alone on UW goaltender Matt Jurusik and snapped the puck low into the net.
“I think Ebbs was going to try and drive the net, but then I started calling for the puck and he made an unbelievable backhand pass. I saw an opening and was able to put it in,” said MacEachern.
MacEachern got his second goal with 23 seconds to play to ensure Spartans’ sweep.
“I thought it was a good game. I was happy with the way we played. Space was hard to get, there were some big hits and I thought they played really hard,” said MSU head coach Tom Anastos. “I liked how we fought through adversity in so many ways tonight.
“For us, it was a really good weekend. Last night, we didn’t play great but found a way to win. Tonight I thought we played really well, and we’ve played really well in some games and haven’t won, but we found a way tonight.”
Jake Hildebrand finished the game with 26 saves, including 12 in the final period.
Michael Ferrantino gave the Spartans a 1-0 lead with 1:06 to play in the first period with a power-play goal on a deflected shot.
Zach Osburn took the puck from Villiam Haag at the blue line where he released a shot toward the net from near the center of the ice. Ferrantino was positioned in front where he tipped the puck downward and past Jurusik.
The Spartans (9-20-3, 5-10-1) outshot the Badgers, 9-7, in a second period that featured good scoring chances both ways. Hildebrand made a pair of terrific saves while the Spartans were shorthanded, first on a 2-on-1 and the second coming on a rebound try. Osburn hit the post during a Spartan power play and later on Jurusik stopped MacEachern’s one-timer with the handle of his stick in the closing minutes of the second stanza.
The Spartans nearly pushed their lead to 2-0 on two occasions early in the third period, but with Jurusik denying both Spartan opportunities, the Badgers took advantage and made it 1-1 when Seamus Malone found a rebound in the low slot and beat Hildebrand with a shot just inside the right post with 12:54 to play.
The Badgers had a prime opportunity to take their first lead of the night in the closing minutes of the third period when they had 1:03 of 5-on-3 power-play time. The Spartans extinguished both penalties, turning the momentum in their favor to set up the dramatic finish.
The Spartans will be off next weekend and return to action March 4-5 at Munn Ice Arena when they host Minnesota in their second to last regular-season series.