For the fourth time in the past five games and the seventh time this season, the Wisconsin men's hockey team failed to score a goal.
In front of a sellout crowd of 6,994 at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing, Michigan State (16-14-2, 10-6-2-2 Big Ten) was able to blank the Badgers 3-0 to complete the series sweep. The sweep was the first for MSU over UW since March 1976.
Leading the way for the Spartans was goaltender Jake Hildebrand, who turned aside all 38 shots on goal from UW.
"(Hildebrand) played well -- you have to tip your cap," Wisconsin assistant coach Gary Shuchuk said on the radio after the game. "We had 38 shots on net in this rink against a very good defensive team. So it was pretty good, we just couldn't score."
The Badgers (4-24-4, 2-14-2-2 Big Ten) were playing without leading scorer Grant Besse, who blocked a shot in Friday's loss and wasn't able to go in the series finale with a knee injury.
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"We battled, we played hard. It's a shame -- we gave it all we can," Shuchuk said. "When you lose your top goal scorer, most teams would go into a funk and go, ‘what are we going to do?' Once again, we picked it up, played hard, we battled, got chances. There was no letdown from that standpoint, the only letdown was that we didn't score, and that's the part that sucks."
Michigan State opened the scoring in the second period on Matt Berry's 11th goal of the season. The senior forward walked into the UW zone on a 2-on-1 and never even thought about passing, instead quickly firing a shot past Wisconsin goaltender Landon Peterson for the 1-0 advantage.
Berry has been a thorn in Wisconsin's side over the past two years, and now has six goals in eight career games against the Badgers.
Mackenzie MacEachern would extend MSU's advantage to 2-0 at the four-minute mark of the third period. With the Spartans on the power play, MacEachern was able to find a loose puck on the side of the Wisconsin crease and push it past Peterson.
The game was sealed just :54 seconds later as Ryan Keller was able bury his eighth of the season. Keller's goal was due in large part to the effort from Joe Cox, who was able to steal the puck from a UW defender in the corner, and while sliding on his knees, was able to send a saucer pass to Keller on the back door for the goal.
Despite giving up three goals, Peterson played solid for the Badgers between the pipes. The senior has seen limited action this season, and had not started a game since Nov. 21 at Colorado College.
"Landon played great for us -- he gave us a chance to win," Shuchuk said. "But I think (Hildebrand) stole the game. He played well, made some timely saves."
The Badgers have just two regular season games remaining on the schedule, as they travel back to Madison next weekend to host Ohio State.
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