EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State’s lack of discipline is beginning to hurt where it counts most — the scoreboard. Such was the case in the 2-1 overtime victory for Wisconsin Saturday night.
A penalty on Spartan junior forward Ash Goldie for tripping with 48 seconds left in the third period with the game tied at one apiece ended up costing the Spartans as junior goaltender Matt Migliaccio mishandled a shot from Badger freshman defenseman Jeff Likens to give Wisconsin the victory.
Killing penalties is leading to tired players, and tired players aren’t scoring goals. In fact, the only Spartan to find the net in the College Hockey Showcase was assistant captain Mike Lalonde. Not a good sign for the offense-laden, defensively-inexperienced Spartans.
“We weren’t as good as we were last night, but we said after the game that’s an indication of a really good team — when we win and don’t play our best,” Wisconsin Head Coach Mike Eaves said. “Coming our here and playing these teams is more about making an impression for our RPI (Ratings Percentage Index).”
After initially struggling to get their feet under them, the Spartans kept pace with the Badgers, but the first period ended with the Badgers up 1-0 on a nice play by freshman Andy Brandt to find open defenseman Tom Sawatske, whose shot beat Migliaccio stick-side.
Despite coming out with more jump than the Badgers in the second period, the Spartans failed to capitalize on their scoring chances, and the second period ended with the Badgers still ahead by one.
In the third, the Spartans again came out with more intensity than their counterparts, and looked to tie the game just over three minutes into the period, but the goal was disallowed because referee Steve McInchak lost sight of the puck and blew the play dead before the goal crossed the line.
The Spartans did tie the game with a goal from — who else? — Lalonde, late in the third, and had momentum in their favor when Goldie was whistled.
As in Friday’s loss against Minnesota, Spartan Head Coach Rick Comley was unhappy with the call, not because Goldie didn’t commit his, but because the Badger who was tripped held Goldie’s stick, disabling Goldie from going after a loose puck.
“It was tripping, but the stick was held first,” Comley said. “Ash reacted to being held. I think better judgment maybe sends both guys. Certainly it was a penalty, but I thought there could have been one called with it.”
And the Spartans find themselves with another loss in which they appeared to outplay their opponent, a fact which is starting to wear on the players.
The key to games like Saturday’s is to win without the extra session, Spartan junior captain Jim Slater said.
“This could be one of the worst ways to lose — in overtime, being shorthanded. It’s a real bad feeling. I thought we could have won that game. I don’t think Wisconsin’s better than us at all — I think we played them real well. That’s no excuse — we’ve got to play better within 60 minutes and bury our chances,” Slater said.
Comley agreed about sticking with the Badgers.
“We played hard. Very even game. Obviously I thought we got better as the game went on, and it’s just unfortunate to lose it on a power play,” Comley said. “I think we need to learn to play hard long enough. I thought we went toe-to-toe with them the entire night. Tonight we played well enough to win and gave up an unfortunate goal at the end. You don’t want to see a game in overtime decided on a power-play situation.
“Too many bad penalties all weekend certainly caused problems for us.”