Feb. 22, 2014
MADISON, Wis. - The eighth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers snapped a 1-1 tie with three consecutive goals and went on to beat the Michigan State hockey team, 5-2, on Friday night at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. Michael Mersch scored a pair of power play goals, while Nic Kerdiles added a goal and two assists for the Badgers, which improved to 18-9-2 overall and 9-5-1-0 in the Big Ten. The Spartans are now 9-14-7 and 3-6-6-4 in the conference.
Lee Reimer gave MSU a 1-0 advantage with a shorthanded goal in the first, but Mersch followed less than three minutes later with his first of two power-play goals on the night to give the Badgers a lead they would not let go.
"I didn't like some of the penalties we took and I thought we gave up some goals too easy tonight," said MSU head coach Tom Anastos. "We have to regroup and clean that stuff up to give ourselves a chance tomorrow night."
The Badgers finished the game 2-for-6 on the power play, while MSU was 0-for-2.
Reimer's early goal came off a feed from Jake Chelios deep in the MSU end. Chelios reversed the puck from behind the Spartan net, back to the right side where Reimer picked it up. With the Badgers making a line change, Reimer found himself with Greg Wolfe on a 2-on-1. Barreling into the zone on right side, Reimer ripped a shot from the middle of the faceoff circle that beat UW goaltender Joel Rumpel.
The goal was Reimer's seventh of the season and second shorthanded goal.
Consecutive MSU penalties after the Reimer goal helped the Badgers establish some offensive momentum. Mersch tied the game by tipping a pass from the point by Kerdiles past Jake Hildebrand just before the midway point of the first period.
Michigan State nearly reclaimed the lead in the final minute of the period as Reimer and Wolfe again teamed up for quality scoring opportunity. On a 2-on-2 that developed quickly in the Badger zone, Wolfe made a nice move from in close on the right side to get a shot off that Rumple kicked out with his left pad. Wolfe quickly put the rebound back toward the net, but the puck bounced off the crossbar.
"I thought we had some really good chances that we didn't take advantage of and we have to bury some of those," said Anastos.
Two more Spartan penalties early in the second period gave Wisconsin a pair of power plays and the Badgers cashed in on the second as Mersch scored his second of the game. Mersch slid home a rebound just under the pad of Hildebrand, giving Wisconsin a 2-1 lead at the 4 minute mark.
It looked like the Badgers would take a 2-1 lead to the locker room after 40 minutes, but a goal in the waning seconds of the period boosted the UW advantage to 3-1. Mark Zengerle beat Hildebrand from near the goal line on the left side with 3.9 seconds to play in the stanza.
Brad Navin put home a rebound from the left side to make it 4-1 at the 4:39 mark of the third.
Mackenzie MacEachern made it a 4-2 game with less than three minutes to play as he beat Rumple from the slot with a wrist shot that slipped just under the crossbar.
The Spartans pulled Hildebrand for the extra attacker in the final two minutes and Kerdiles got an empty-netter to make the final score 5-2.
The Spartans and Badgers will meet again tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET. The game will air on ESPNU.