Spartans Blank No. 7 Wisconsin, 2-0
John Lethemon earned his second shutout of the year with a career-high 38 saves.
EAST LANSING - John Lethemon made a career-high 38 saves as the Michigan State hockey team bounced back to down seventh-ranked Wisconsin 2-0 on Saturday night at Munn Ice Arena. Cody Milan's first period power-play goal proved to be the difference and Mitch Lewandowski's third period goal with 8:21 to go gave the Spartans some breathing room.
"I'm obviously really happy for the guys," said MSU head coach Danton Cole. "They played really hard and we kind of tried to take some of the good things we did last night and build on those. I thought their energy and spirit was good."
The shutout was Lethemon's second this season and second of his career.
"He was good; he was real calm," said Cole. "Sometimes when goalies are having a good game they make it look easy. He was square to pucks, and things were hitting him, he wasn't kicking a lot of rebounds and was just really calm."
Despite Wisconsin (7-5-1, 2-2) carrying the play in the opening period, it was the Spartans that got the only goal of the opening stanza as Milan converted on the power play.
MSU (5-5, 1-3) got its lone power play of the period with 2 minutes to play and it took just seven seconds for Patrick Khodorenko and Taro Hirose to set up Milan for the goal. Off the faceoff in the right circle, Hirose got control of the puck in the high slot and then found Milan off the right edge of the crease all by himself where he one-timed the puck home for his second goal in two nights.
The Spartans kept it a 1-0 game in the second as they killed three Badger power plays in the stanza with the help of 15 stops from Lethemon.
The line of Khodorenko, Hirose and Mitchell Lewandowski created a handful of quality chances in the second period, but weren't able to add to the MSU lead. However, persistence paid off as with 8:21 to play, Lewandowski finished a tic-tac-toe play to give MSU a two-goal cushion.
Khodorenko caused a turnover at the UW blue line and dished the puck to Hirose near the left circle. Hirose quickly fed the puck back to Lewandowski in the low slot where he one-timed it past goaltender Kyle Hayton.
The Badgers pulled Hayton for the final 2:38 for the extra attacker, but the Spartans thwarted ever chance to hang on for the 2-0 win.
"The third period was probably our best," Cole said. "We started doing a little better job through the neutral zone and got a little forcheck going and got rewarded with a second goal. That didn't make it easy, but it did make the last three minutes a little bit easier."
MSU killed all four UW power plays and went 1-for-3 on the man-advantage.
Wisconsin finished with a 38-17 advantage in shots on goal.
The Spartans are back in action next weekend with a home-and-home series vs. Ferris State. The two teams will meet on Friday at 7:05 p.m. at Munn. Michigan State will honor the 2007 National Championship team during Friday's game.