Spartans blank Badgers to stay perfect at home in conference play

John Lethemon stands tall in the net, gets shutout in upset win over No. 19 Wisconsin


John Lethemon/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

Kyle Hatty, Hockey reporter

EAST LANSING — Michigan State returned home after getting swept by Ohio State to host No. 19 Wisconsin and two first round draft picks from this year’s NHL draft — Cole Caufield and Alex Turcotte, who play for the Badgers,.. 

Michigan State stayed undefeated at home in conference play with a 3-0 win over the Badgers on Friday night. 

Wisconsin lead in shots 41-36, But Michigan State won in faceoffs 34-32.

“We did a lot of things really well,” said head coach Danton Cole. “But I think the thing I liked about it most was the battle and being comfortable playing the game.”

Friday’s shutout was MSU goalie John Lethemon’s third shutout of the season, which is tied for the most in the country. The other two being Dryden McKay from Minnesota State and Spencer Knight from Boston College.

The first period was a back and forth affair. Early on Michigan State dominated the period and at one time lead 12-3 and took a 1-0 lead near the middle of the first. 

The goal came from Tommy Miller who gets his first goal of the year. A couple minutes later a Jagger Joshua penalty shifted momentum to Wisconsin’s favor. 

The Badgers went on a run late in the period and outshot the Spartans 14-1 to close out the period. 

Lethemon stood strong in net for Michigan State and turned away all 14 shots from a talented Badger offense.

The middle period was much of the same, two even teams with a plethora of scoring chances on both sides, the only difference was the goaltending. 

Both goalies were tested but Lethemon looked as strong as he has all season—which is saying a lot. 

Lethemon got help from the guys in front of him as well. After Jagger Joshua’s first career goal in the second, and Brody Stevens scrappy goal late in the middle period, Michigan State took a 3-0 lead into the final period.

Lethemon turned away good opportunities all night against some of the best freshman talent in the nation and made No. 19 Wisconsin look like they were chasing all night. 

He finished with 41 saves and had his best game since his shutout at home against Michigan in November.

Lethemon stood tall but both teams with less urgency than before — both sides knowing they probably weren’t going to put three past Lethemon in one period. 

Outside of a couple penalties, the third period was mainly Michigan State playing to preserve the shutout. The Spartans were successful in their goal and did earn the shutout at home on the way to their 3-0 win over the Badgers.

“That’s a credit to our team,” said Lethemon after the win. “It’s a reflection on how well we play defensively, we’re going to continue to defend well and I’ll be the beneficiary of that.”

Michigan State picks up three crucial points in the conference with a chance to get a sweep tomorrow night at home. These two teams will play again at Munn Ice Arena tomorrow night at 7 p.m.

Kyle Hatty is a hockey beat reporter for Impact89FM