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Michigan State hockey sweeps Wisconsin as Erik Middendorf, Dylan St. Cyr shine

MSU moves into fifth place in the Big Ten standings.

Michigan State v Massachusetts-Lowell Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

Michigan State men’s ice hockey swept Wisconsin this weekend, improving to 6-3-1 on the season. Senior winger Erik Middendorf scored his first four goals of the season on Friday and both freshman defenseman Viktor Hurtig and graduate defenseman Justin Jallen scored their first points.

Game 1: 5-0 victory

Michigan State earned a shutout victory Friday night against the Wisconsin Badgers. Graduate goaltender Dylan St. Cyr earned his first shutout at MSU, while Middendorf scored four goals. Sophomore forward Tanner Kelly also scored a goal.

St. Cyr earned the shutout, making 44 saves in the effort, the most he’s made while at MSU. His career-high save total, however, is 46, which he set while at Notre Dame in 2017 against Denver.

The graduate transfer gave a nod to his defense for the victory.

“It was a team effort to play really good team defense,” St. Cyr said after the game. “I think we’re cleaning up a lot of the backdoor plays that we’d seen earlier on in the season and just making it a lot easier for me to predict that shot.”

Meanwhile, Middendorf had four goals, and almost a fifth later in the game. Coming into the night, the left winger didn’t have any goals, only an assist on his stat-sheet. Now he’s tied for sixth on his team in points.

His four-goal night is the most for an MSU player since Sean Berens against Northern Michigan in 1998. The record is five, achieved four times by four different MSU players.

“That was huge for my confidence,” Middendorf said. “You can see with the first celebration, after the first goal…It felt really good to get the first couple.”

As for a fifth goal, Middendorf said it wasn’t on his mind, but it’s a nice thought.

“I was just focusing on winning the game for Dylan (St. Cyr),” Middendorf said. “I think if I skated like one foot closer, I would have had that one. That would have been crazy.”

Michigan State’s 5-0 win over Wisconsin comes a week after the team lost 5-0 themselves to Big Ten rival Notre Dame. On Saturday against the Fighting Irish, the Spartans took a 1-1 tie. When asked if anything sparked Michigan State in this game, MSU head coach Adam Nightingale said it’s just about playing “winning hockey.”

“That’s what we’re trying to do, develop winning hockey players,” he said. “For us to have success, we have to play team hockey. If we try to do it on our own, it won’t go well. When we played our best this year, we’ve played as a team, and we’ve got to keep doing that.”

This game also extended Michigan State’s penalty-kill streak up to 21 consecutive kills, dating back to Oct. 14 against UMass-Lowell. Wisconsin, meanwhile, moved to 3-for-30 on the power-play, which is good for worst in the Big Ten Conference. Nightingale nodded to St. Cyr’s performance in the team’s penalty kill.

“It’s an old adage, your best penalty kill is your goalie, and Dylan was really good.”

Game 2: 5-1 victory

Michigan State took a 5-1 victory Saturday night against the Badgers.

After killing off its first penalty, a minor interference call on junior defenseman Nash Nienhuis, MSU’s streak of 22 consecutive penalties killed came to an end later in the game. A one-timer on the power-play by Brock Caufield put Wisconsin on the board for the first time this weekend.

That was after MSU had already jumped out to a 3-0 lead, however, on goals by senior forward Jagger Joshua, graduate winger Miroslav Mucha and sophomore right-winger Tanner Kelly.

Caufield brought Wisconsin within two, but an own-goal off of Wisconsin goaltender Kyle McClellan put MSU up 4-1. Fifth-year defenseman Cole Krygier was credited with the goal as a pass from Krygier bounced off of McClellan’s skate and into the back of the net.

MSU led 4-1 by the end of the first period.

The Spartans also had its second-straight ejection when Joshua received a game misconduct for charging with “intention to injure” his opponent. That gave Wisconsin a five-minute man-advantage to begin the second period, which MSU killed off successfully.

Michigan State got back to the scoreboard in the third period when Nienhuis blasted a puck from the point. It deflected off of freshman left-winger Tiernan Shoudy who was credited with the goal, putting MSU up 5-1.

Michigan State took seven penalties in the 5-1 win. The lone goal that the Spartans allowed was on the power-play, as mentioned, but St. Cyr said staying out of the box can swing the game and MSU needs to be better.

“It’s not a recipe for winning,” St. Cyr said after the second game. “I think we have to cut back on that and make sure we’re staying disciplined. Obviously, like I said, the two five-minutes, to no fault of those players, that is momentum-changing and those were kind of turning points in those games for (Wisconsin). As long as our team can stay out of the box, I think we can have really good success moving forward.”

Michigan State hosts Ohio State on Thursday and Friday with both games starting at 7 p.m. on BTN+.