Michigan State tops Wisconsin in 3-2 thriller


MSU forward Erik Middendorf lays on the ice after taking a big hit in the Spartans’ 3-1 win over Miami (OH) on Oct. 15, 2021/ Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM

Matt Merrifield, General Assignment Reporter

East Lansing — Michigan State hockey was able to extend their winning streak to three games Friday night against the Wisconsin Badgers. It was a tight contest the entire game, but the Spartans were able to pull out a 3-2 win.

This was Michigan State’s first meeting with Wisconsin of the season after being swept by the Badgers in 2020. The game was chippy throughout with lots of hits and penalties as both teams combined for eight penalties, the Spartans had five for 10 minutes, and the Badgers 3 penalties for six minutes.

Not even two minutes into the game, Michigan State got a power play after a high-sticking penalty by Wisconsin Defenseman Josh Ess. The Spartans took advantage of this early opportunity and took a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal by junior Erik Middendorf. Throughout the first, Wisconsin scrapped to erase its early deficit but was denied by great team defense and eight blocked shots by the Spartans.

Wisconsin started the second period hot, creating lots of scoring chances. Halfway through the period, the Badgers had three prime opportunities in front of the net, but goaltender Drew DeRidder shut the door. 

Five minutes later, the Spartans took advantage of a Wisconsin miscue and sophomore Jeremy Davidson buried it past Wisconsin goaltender Jared Moe to give Michigan State a 2-0 lead with 6:27 to play in the period. 

In the final minutes of the second, Wisconsin was given an opportunity to answer after a too many men on the ice, and a Christian Krygier tripping penalty gave the Badgers a two-man advantage. Seconds after the first penalty expired, senior Jack Gorniak received a pass in the center slot from fellow senior Brock Caufield and scored his third goal of the year to make it 2-1 after two periods.

Both teams traded penalties to start the third, but neither side could take advantage. Halfway through period three junior Griffin Loughran hustled to stop an icing against the Spartans. He beat Wisconsin defenseman Tyler Inamoto to the puck and laid a body check to remove Inamoto from the play. Loughran found himself and the puck behind Moe and tried to slip one past the goalie on a wrap-around goal. Instead, the puck dribbled off Moe’s blocker and was sitting in front of the crease in perfect position for a streaking Middendorf to sprawl out and slap it past Moe to light the lamp. Middendorf’s second goal of the night gave MSU a 3-1 lead with 7:07 to play.

MSU forward Griffin Loughran (16) celebrates after scoring a goal in the first period of MSU’s 5-1 win over Air Force on Oct. 9, 2021/ Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM

The Badgers would answer less than two minutes later, after Michigan State turned the puck over in the defensive zone, Carson Bantle fired it past Deridder to make it a one-goal game. Bantle’s first goal of the season breathed new life into a Badger team that after Middendorf’s second goal looked down and out of the contest.

DeRidder and the Spartans would shut the door the rest of the way to seal the 3-2 win. The senior goaltender was impressive the entire night stopping 40 out of 42 shots faced. He made some crucial saves including the biggest of the night, a sprawling glove save with just over a minute to go that would’ve tied it for Wisconsin but instead ensured a Michigan State victory.

Middendorf’s second goal of the night would prove to be another game-winning goal for the Colorado College transfer, his fifth goal of the season, fourth game-winner. Middendorf has scored a game-winner in four of the last six series for Michigan State, he is now tied for first in the country in game-winning goals with Michigan forward Brendan Brisson. 

The Spartans will face the Badgers again Saturday night at 8 p.m. looking to sweep the home series for the first time since 2019.