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Wisconsin men’s hockey sweeps Michigan State

The Badgers blasted Sparty at the Kohl Center.

It was a great weekend for hockey at the Kohl Center.

After a long winter break, Wisconsin (10-7-1 overall, 3-1-0 Big Ten) returned with a bang, drilling hapless Michigan State (4-13-1 overall, 0-4-0 Big Ten) in a pair of 5-1 wins.

On Friday, with sophomore captain Luke Kunin unavailable fresh off captaining Team USA to its stunning world juniors championship, balance was the name of the game. Wisconsin peppered Michigan State goaltender Ed Minney with 36 shots as five different Badgers (Jason Ford, Cameron Hughes, Will Johnson, Jake Linhart and Max Zimmer) scored goals. Grant Besse, Trent Frederic and Seamus Malone each had two assists. Freshman Jack Berry got the start in goal and looked sharp, stopping 25 of 26 shots in the win.

A season-high 11,719 fans watched on Saturday as Kunin returned to the lineup and immediately made his presence felt. The sophomore captain tallied two goals, including a power-play goal in the second period. There was no rest for Minney as the Badgers put up 35 shots on goal with Malone, Peter Tischke and Matt Ustaski also scoring for the Badgers. Sophomore goaltender Matt Jurusik returned in his first start since suffering a leg injury in late November and had 23 saves. Besse extended his consecutive points streak to eight games, notching an assist on Malone’s goal, which the sophomore tallied just 33 seconds into the first period.

Saturday’s victory was Wisconsin’s 200th at the Kohl Center and with it, the improving Badgers surpassed their win total from last year. Wisconsin continued its season-long offensive explosion; the Badgers now sit sixth nationally in goals scored per game (3.61). By netting two power-play goals over the weekend, the Badgers are also eighth in the country in power-play percentage (22.73% - 25 of 110). Wisconsin climbed into a tie for 25th in the NCAA’s Pairwise Rankings.

In addition to all of the free ice cream, the wins propel the Badgers into a three-way tie for first in the Big Ten with Penn State and Minnesota. Wisconsin has the weekend off before the Gophers come to town Jan. 20–21.

Big Ten recap

  • USCHO No. 2/USA Today No. 2 Penn State: Split series with Ohio State in Columbus (0-3, 4-2); the Nittany Lions are No. 1 in Pairwise.
  • No. 9/No. 9 Minnesota: Off; No. 11 in Pairwise.
  • No. 11/No. 11 Ohio State: Split series with Penn State in Columbus (3-0, 2-4); No. 12 in Pairwise.
  • Michigan: Off
  • Michigan State; Lost to Wisconsin 5-1, 5-1 in Madison.