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View From The Top: Spartans sweep Badgers; Claim 1st Place

With help from around the league and a sweep of the Badgers the Spartans claim the league lead

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

On the backs of a seven game home winning streak and with some helpful results around the league, the Michigan State Spartans hockey team has claimed the top spot in the B1G standings. With just one weekend of play left the Spartans hold a one point lead over Michigan and Minnesota and need just three points next weekend to secure a 1st round bye in the league tournament. The Spartans will host the Michigan Wolverines next weekend in a home-and-home series that should bring some fire back into the dormant hockey rivalry.

Before we look too much ahead on the important series next weekend lets take a look back at this weekend's sweep of the Wisconsin Badgers.

Friday Night 3-0

Michigan State Spartans vs. Wisconsin Badgers
3 Goals 0
28 Shots 21
2/6 Power Play 0/4
Matt Berry (9,10) Michael Ferrantino (11) Goal Scorers N/A

The Spartans actually didn't have their best showing on Friday night, the Badgers were just so...awful. The Badgers, a supposed division one hockey team in a "power" conference managed one shot on net the entire first period. The Spartans were not great in the first period but were able to get a 1-0 lead on a Matt Berry power play goal. Mackenzie MacEachern worked his way around the zone and somehow through a soft Wisconsin defense threaded a backhand pass through the slot to a wide open Berry.

The next two periods were played pretty even on shot attempts but Wisconsin for the second straight game couldn't solve Jake Hildebrand. Michael Ferrantino scored a typical Ferrantino goal, going to the net and finishing a rebound off a Brent Darnell shot. On the play it looked like Brent Darnell was trying the "Michigan goal" where you pick the puck up on your stick and score lacrosse style. Once he couldn't get the puck to cooperate Darnell made a smart play to just get a backhand shot low that kicked out into the slot for Ferrantino. Matt Berry would add a wrsit shot goal on the power play in the third period and the Spartans would kill off two power plays to end the game 3-0.

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Saturday Night 3-0

Michigan State Spartans vs. Wisconsin Badgers
3 Goals 0
31 Shots 38
1/4 Power Play 0/4

Matt Berry (11) Mackenzie MacEachern (11)

Ryan Keller (8)

Goal Scorers N/A

Both teams played a better game on Saturday night but thanks to Jake Hildebrand shutting out the Badgers for the 3rd straight game the Spartans were able to earn the sweep. The teams played a first period with power play chances both ways but no goals were scored. The Spartans took the lead early in the second period when Matt Berry came down the boards and put a wrist shot below the blocker of the Wisconsin goaltender. It was the third goal of the weekend for Berry who has come on strong since returning from a mid-season suspension.

The Spartans were lucky to get out of the second period with a lead as the Badgers poured shots onto Hildebrand but he was equal to the task. Four minutes into the final frame Mackenzie MacEachern got to pot an easy goal on the power play, tapping the puck into an empty net after a Thomas Ebbing deflection of a Matt Berry shot. Less than a minute later the Spartans would essentially put the game away when Joe Cox made a great saucer pass from his knees to Ryan Keller who one-timed the puck into the top of the net.

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Around the B1G

Minnesota got a weekend split against Ohio State winning 4-2 Friday before losing 5-2 on Saturday. Michigan continued to struggle playing Penn State as they were swept in Pennsylvania 6-4, 4-3. With the losses for Michigan they fell out of at-large consideration and will need to win the conference tournament to avoid missing the NCAA tournament for the third year in a row (the same streak applies to Michigan State).

Next Up

The Spartans will host Michigan next Friday night on senior night before traveling to Ann Arbor Saturday. Minnesota will host Penn State for a series while Ohio State and Wisconsin play in Madison.