Is That Offense? Hockey Splits With Wisconsin

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Spartans score three plus goals each night, show development before BTT

Outside of one period this weekend the Spartan hockey team may have put together their best weekend series in B1G play. The Spartans lost a game for only the second time all season when scoring three or more goals and that came after scoring five goals on Friday. The Spartan power play was deadly going 4-5 on the weekend and they saw contributions from three lines on the weekend and were close to sweeping the 5th ranked team in the country.

No matter how you slice it the 5th place finish and offensive struggles all season have been extremely disappointing in Tom Anastos' third season. While he may not be on the hot seat of the administration, patience certainly seems to be wearing thin with the fanbase. Hopefully for the health of the program the offensive abilities shown by underclassmen this weekend will develop over this summer and bring a much more competitive team to B1G rinks next year.

Friday Night 5-4 (OT) Victory

#5 Wisconsin Badgers vs. Michigan State Spartans
4 Goals 5
31 Shots 32
0/1 Power Play 3/3

Joseph LaBate (11) Nic Kerdiles (14)

Tyler Barnes (12) Chase Drake (3)

Scorers

Justin Hoomaian (1) Matt Berry (8,9)

Villiam Haag (7) Lee Reimer (9)

The first period display by the Spartans Friday may have been their best period all season. After surrendering a quick goal to the Badgers, the Spartans went on to outshoot the Badgers 16-9 and put two goals past Joel Rumpel. Sophomore Justin Hoomaian, in the lineup for only his 10th game this season, scored his first career goal redirecting a Dean Chelios shot right in front of the net. On their first power play of the night Matt Berry scored his first of two goals on the evening, tipping a Matt DeBlouw point shot on the power play past Rumpel. The Spartans dominated play the rest of the period and continued to control the play in the beginning of the second.

Less than five minutes into the second period the Spartans added to their lead with Matt Berry getting his second of the night. Berry beat the Badger defenseman for a clean break on net and wristed a shot that beat Rumpel blocker side. Unfortunately for the Spartans they couldn't handle the pushback from the 5th ranked Badgers and Wisconsin tied the game before the end of the frame.

On the power play in the 3rd period freshman Villiam Haag finished off a beautiful backhand pass from Michael Ferrantino, for the Spartans 2nd power play goal of the game. Once again the Spartans couldn't hold the lead as the Badgers tied the game with a little more than 8 minutes remaining. With 23 seconds remaining in regulation the Badgers were assessed with a slashing minor. Senior Lee Reimer finished off the perfect power play night for the Spartans, beating Rumpel on a backhand shot in the slot to give the Spartans their first win over Wisconsin since 2004.

Spartans down #5 Wisconsin in OT (via MSUSpartanAthletics)

Saturday Night 4-3 Badgers

#5 Wisconsin Badgers vs. Michigan State Spartans
4 Goals 3
32 Shots 22
1/3 Power Play 1/2

Nic Kerdiles (15) Gavin Hartzog (1)

Sean Little (2) Grant Besse (8)

Scorers

Matt Berry (10) Dean Chelios (2)

Villiam Haag (8)

Playing on senior night can be a pretty tough ordeal, especially starting the game right after the ceremonies. Such was the case for the Spartans on Saturday night, as they were sunk by a terrible first period and found themselves down 4-0 while they had only gotten three shots on net. At just 2:55 in the first period Nic Kerdiles got his second goal of the weekend with a one timer from the point on the power play. Senior goalie Will Yanakeff was once again bested on a point shot, when he let a soft wrister from the point by Gavin Hartzog get by him. The Badgers handed the Spartans a chance to get back in the game, when Mark Zengerle was given a 5 minute major for hitting Villiam Haag from behind. The Spartan power play, so hot the night before, showed no urgency because they had so much time and were able to only muster a single shot on net on the power play. The Badgers rode that momentum scoring two more goals in the period, including one a mere 22 seconds after a Spartan timeout.

Tom Anastos decided to stick with Yanakeff on senior night and after opting out of the intermission interview must have said something good in the locker room, because the Spartans were a different team in the second. Just 1:26 into the period Matt Berry scored his second power play goal of the weekend on a little bit of a crazy play. After driving the net and getting a shot off, the puck caromed off Rumpel, hit a stick and went into the air. The puck hit the top of Michael Mersch's helmet and looped in the air past Rumpel into the net. 4 minutes later Joe Cox was hauled down on a breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot. Cox beat Rumpel but lost control of the puck and the score remained 4-1. With ten minutes remaining, RJ Boyd carried the puck into the zone and fed Dean Chelios, a pass that he one timed past Rumpel to cut the Badger lead to two.

The third period was again controlled by the Spartans as they outshot the Badgers 13-8 and were frankly unlucky to not tie the game. Just over 5 minutes into the period, Haag netted his second goal with a beautiful shot on a 2 on 1 that beat Rumpel above his right shoulder. Lee Reimer had a shot go off the knob of Rumpels stick and Thomas Ebbing was very close to burying a rebound, yet the Spartans could not find the 4th goal to tie the game. So the Spartans scored the most goals they have all season in a B1G series and were one period away from sweeping the 5th ranked team in the country.

Looking Back At The 3 Keys To Success

  1. Jake Hildebrand- Hildebrand once again had a tough weekend, surrendering four goals in his only game Friday night. The Spartans need him to find his play from earlier this season for the B1G Tournament, especially since he is now at least getting some help from his offense.
  2. Stay Out Of The Box- Only four minor penalties on the weekend which is much better than the 11 the Spartans took last time out against the Badgers. Unfortunately they weren't perfect on the weekend surrendering the first goal Saturday on the penalty kill.
  3. John Draeger and Jake Chelios- 0 points on the weekend and a combined -3. The Spartans need this pair to be outstanding against Ohio State Thursday. They however, did receive a good weekend from defenseman RJ Boyd and Travis Walsh who pushed the play forward and were stout in their own end.

Next Up

The Spartans play in the first round of the B1G Tournament Thursday against the Ohio State Buckeyes at the XCel Energy Center in St. Paul. The winner will go on to play Minnesota Friday night.

Recruit Update

  • 2014-15 Class: Connor Wood who began the year in East Lansing, then returned to Muskegon for junior, had a goal Friday night in the Lumberjacks 5-1 win over the Youngstown Phantoms. It is expected that Wood will return to the Spartans roster next season. Joshua Jacobs was +3 in the Indiana Ice's sweep over the Green Bay Gamblers. Edwin Minney was the goaltender in a 5-2 loss for USA against the Cedar Rapids Roughriders.
  • 2015-16 Class: Ryan Bederka is a part of the Honeybaked Midget Minor team that plays for a state championship Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in Taylor. They will face off against Little Ceasars who they defeated 5-1 on Saturday. Zach Osburn is a defenseman on the Victory Honda Midget Major team that is also playing for a state championship today against Little Ceasars. They defeated Ceasars 6-2 Saturday.
  • 2016-17 Class: This class features four more members of the Honeybaked team playing for a state championship, in Mitch Eliot, Mitch Lewandowski, David Keefer and Noah Lalonde. Ty Farmer will play with the St. Louis Blues AAA midget minors in the Central District playoffs next weekend. Farmer has 12 points in 31 games played as a top minute defenseman.

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