EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Wisconsin men’s hockey team (21-10-2, 12-6-1-0 Big Ten) was unable to weather an offensive explosion from Michigan State, which used a trio of power-play goals and a game-winner from Lee Reimer to foil UW’s conference championship hopes in overtime, 5-4.
The Badgers entered the weekend needing to sweep Michigan State (11-16-7, 5-8-6-4 Big Ten) and have Michigan limit Minnesota to one total point in their series. Unfortunately, they would get neither of the necessary results, handing the inaugural Big Ten title to the Gophers.
Coming into the series having won five-straight games, Wisconsin never got on track. Though it climbed out of an early deficit to force overtime, Reimer’s finish just 46 seconds in ensured UW would never fully get out of the hole.
The two normally-stout defensive squads combined to allow a surprising nine goals, with four of them coming in the first period when MSU took a 2-1 lead.
The Badgers got on the board first, when Joseph LaBate (Eagan, Minn.) redirected in a Chase Drake (Mosinee, Wis.) shot 1:58 into the period. But the Spartans quickly responded with three-straight goals of their own, and would never trail again.
Wisconsin made a pair of comeback bids, with the first coming late in the second period when back-to-back goals by Nic Kerdiles (Irvine, Calif.) and Tyler Barnes (Eagan, Minn.) pulled UW even at 3-3 going into the final frame.
But Michigan State responded when Villiam Haag tallied the Spartans’ second power-play goal of the night, taking a feed in the slot and finishing past Joel Rumpel (Swift Current, Saskatchewan) 2:27 into the final period.
Wisconsin had one more answer, as Drake finished from the right circle with 8:19 left in regulation to send the game into overtime.
But Barnes would get the gate on a controversial call late in the period. Michigan State would capitalize on his absence in overtime, thanks to Reimer’s timely tally. It was the third power-play goal of the game for MSU. Wisconsin went into the PSU series with 30-straight road penalty kills. After Friday’s game, it’s allowed power-play finishes in three-straight games.
Rumpel allowed a season-high five goals on 32 attempts, while MSU’s Jake Hildebrand turned away 27 of Wisconsin’s 31 looks to get the win.
Wisconsin went 0-for-1 on the man advantage, while the Spartans cashed in on each of the three power plays they earned.
The Badgers return to the ice for the series and regular season finale at 3 p.m. (CT) on Saturday. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Wisconsin alternate.