Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Men’s Hockey: Badgers settle for split, lose Big Ten to Michigan State

Badgers’ divisional hopes dashed as Michigan State claims Big Ten title over the weekend
Bennett Waara

The Michigan State University men’s hockey team (22-9-3, 16-6-2 Big Ten) took care of business, beating the University of Wisconsin in the opening game of the series this weekend, winning their first Big Ten championship since the conference formed for hockey in 2014 and denying the Badgers (25-9-2, 16-7-1 Big Ten) the chance at a winner-take-all game on Saturday.

Wisconsin at least proved they could beat the Spartans, winning 4-1 on their senior night in the regular season finale, but it was too little, too late for the Big Ten.

Here’s how the two-game series went down this weekend in Madison.


Game 1 Michigan State 5, Wisconsin 2

This game was supposed to be the one to set the table for the Badgers. A win would force a winner-take-all battle on Saturday.

They played like it right away, blitzing the Spartans early and getting the game’s first goal 47 seconds into the contest on an arcing shot from junior Daniel Laatsch through a screen that found its way past Michigan State goalkeeper Trey Augustine and in. It was fluky, but the Badgers and Laatsch had no complaints. Especially with how the next goal was scored.

A little under five minutes later, a long shot from top NHL Draft prospect Artyom Levshunov that looked like it was going over the goal, tipped off of the glove of UW goalie Kyle McClellan and in to even the score at one.

The Spartans grabbed the lead on a 2-on-1 rush where senior Reed Lebster made a great pass to junior Jeremy Davidson, who buried it. That’s how the first period would end, one where the Badgers outshot the Spartans 19-7.

Men’s Hockey: Badgers sweep Penn State, set up series for Big Ten next weekend

In the second period, Michigan State took a major penalty that UW was able to make them pay for with the tying goal, thanks to sophomore Ben Dexheimer’s shot by senior Mathieu De St. Phalle. It was another period in which the Badgers held a dominant shots on goal advantage, but were only able to score one goal.

With 7:10 left to play, Lebster, who made the pass to set up the Spartans’ second goal, burned through the Badgers defense to force one past McClellan.

The Spartans would add two goals with the Badgers’ net empty during their last-ditch comeback effort as the game came to a close. Wisconsin finished the game with a 46-26 shots on goal advantage and a 47-24 face-off advantage.

“Forty-some shots and have two goals? We need to be more productive than that,” UW head coach Mike Hastings said after the game. “And then make a few more plays when they were there, whether it was with the puck or without the puck.”

It was a tough loss for the Badgers, rendering the Saturday game meaningless for the Big Ten.

Game 2 Michigan State 1, Wisconsin 4

The game might not have mattered for the Big Ten, but the Badgers needed to turn the page quickly. After all, Pairwise points were still on the line and while a Big Ten title would be nice, the ultimate goal is always the national championship. Plus, it was senior day and UW had 10 of them they wanted to send off in style.

As a result, the Badgers enjoyed another fast start. They fired 17 shots on goal in the first 8:11 of the game, an unsustainable pace that, drawn out over a whole 60 minutes, would equate to over 120 shots on goal in the game.

Among those 17 shots was the game’s first two goals. The first one came from freshman Sawyer Scholl, who launched one on from a tough angle and squeezed it off the pad of Augustine and in before he could close it off. The second was scored by senior Carson Bantle eight seconds into the first UW power play of the game, to give UW a 2–0 lead.

Michigan State tightened up after that and cut the lead in half on a 5-on-3 power play, thanks to freshman Karsen Dorwart. That’s how the first period would end.

The Spartans pressed hard in the second period, but McClellan, who Hastings was prepared to give the day off according to BadgerExtra’s Todd Milewski, made good on his desire to start and stood tall the rest of the way.

Just when the Badgers were able to relieve some of the pressure, Bantle struck again with his team-leading 14th goal, thanks to a nice pass all the way through the seam by sophomore Jack Horbach. That was a huge separator for the Badgers to give them a little bit of breathing room and take some of the wind out of Michigan State’s sails.

In the third, which came and went pretty uneventfully, Scholl would guide in his second goal of the game with an empty-netter to seal the win for Wisconsin.

McClellan made 28 saves to get the win for the Badgers, clinching their first 25-win regular season since the dawn of the millennium in 2000.

Senior Night

Before Saturday’s contest, the Badgers recognized eight of the 10 seniors on the roster. They were Bantle, De St. Phalle, David Silye, Anthony Kehrer, Luke LaMaster, McClellan, Ben Garrity and Sam Stange.

The other two, Mike Vorlicky and Owen Lindmark, were part of the festivities last season.

“It’s pretty emotional,” Bantle said. “We’re pretty lucky. Not everyone gets to throw on the jersey with their best friends every day. It’s such a special place. Just being able to take it in every single day is just something we can all be grateful for.”

To the victor, go the spoils

With the win on Friday night, Michigan State clinched their first Big Ten title in school history, surprisingly leaving Michigan as the last team that had not won a regular season title yet.

The Badgers won their lone title in 2021, during the weird COVID-era season in which they played their home games at LaBahn Arena and Cole Caufield won the Hobey Baker Award.

Overall, Minnesota leads the way with six regular season titles.

Stars of the weekend 

Number three is goalie Trey Augustine on Michigan State. Solid all weekend in net despite the big stage and crazy shot volume, stopping 79 of 84 UW shots this weekend.

Number two is Bantle on UW. His two goals were the catalyst to the Badgers’ win in game two.

Number one is Lebster, also on Michigan State. Three points, including the game-winning goal to give your team its first Big Ten title? Yeah, that’ll get you the number one star.

Up next

It’s playoff time! The Badgers earned the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament and will play host to postseason hockey for the first time since 2013. They welcome in the No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes (12-18-4, 4-18-2 Big Ten), which swept Wisconsin just a few weeks ago in Columbus.

Puck drop times for this best-of-three at the Kohl Center are 7 p.m. for game one on Friday, 6 p.m. for game two on Saturday and 5 p.m. for game three on Sunday if the teams split the first two games.

The rest of the Big Ten Tournament is as follows —

No. 6 Penn State at No. 3 Minnesota

No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 4 Michigan

All games will be streaming exclusively on Big Ten Plus.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Badger Herald

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Wisconsin-Madison. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Badger Herald

Comments (0)

All The Badger Herald Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *