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MADISON, Wis. – It was a game fitting of its final result.
Both head coaches used variations of the word gritty to describe a 4-4 tie between No. 9 Wisconsin and No. 17 Michigan Saturday, a game with ebbs and flows that made it entertaining for the 10,922 fans at the Kohl Center watching the only weekend’s only Big Ten conference series.
“This was a battle and I think this is what you are going to see for Big Ten play throughout the year,” Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato said, whose team fell 2-0 in the shootout to give the Wolverines the extra league point. “Two teams who are evenly matched that are going to compete for every inch of ice.”
The positives Wisconsin (8-5-2, 3-2-1-0 Big Ten) can take from the series finale was a power play that went 2-for-6, third-line freshman winger Linus Weissbach chipping in a pair of goals and a penalty kill erasing four chances.
But defensive zone breakdowns leaving players uncovered caused the Badgers to play from behind in the first and third period, saved only because senior captain Cameron Hughes’s goal tied the score with 1:10 remaining in the third period when the Badgers had an extra attacker on the ice.
“The fact that these games are going to be hard-fought all the way through, especially in the Big Ten, three-point games are going to be fought all the way to 65 minutes,” Hughes said, whose team has failed to sweep consecutive weekends after dominating the opening game. “For us to come back, tie one up and get a tie out of it was nice, but there are some areas we definitely need to clean up.”
Michigan (6-4-2, 2-2-1-1) rebounded after giving up seven goals Friday to play better in its defensive zone. After giving up two goals in the first period the night before, including one 33 seconds in, Pearson wrote “Start on Time” as his first thing on the white board.
His top-line listened after the opening whistle. Center Cooper Marody and winger Tony Calderone scored goals in the first 7:01 when they found open ice and clear lanes to Wisconsin goalie Kyle Hayton (33 saves).
“I wasn’t sure how we were going to respond tonight,” Pearson said, “so it was good to see the start.”
It was also good for Pearson to see a little resolve. After Wisconsin took the lead with three consecutive goals, the first one coming with 3.8 seconds left in the first period, third-line forward Jake Slaker fired home his seventh goal of the season from between the circles less than three minutes into the third period, and fourth-line center Nick Pastujov took advantage of UW’s inability to clear the puck to score the go-ahead goal with less than eight minutes remaining.
But now having given up 17 goals in the last three games, Pearson felt Michigan’s better play in the defensive zone was overshadowed by Hughes’ tally with 70 seconds left that came just after Slaker missed an empty-net goal that would have likely sealed the win.
“We’re playing from behind too much, but they continue to battle,” Pearson said. “That’s what I really appreciate about this team is they stay with it.”
Big Ten Round-up
NO.4 NOTRE DAME 1, RENSSELAER 0 (OT)
Forward Cam Morrison tipped in defenseman Andrew Peeke’s shot 13 seconds into overtime to give the Irish a road sweep in their final nonconference series of the season.
Winners of seven straight, Notre Dame (10-3-1) had been mostly winning with offense – scoring a total of 22 goals in the previous six games – but couldn’t figure out goalie Linden Marshall and a Rensselaer (2-7-1) defense that had averaged 4.4 goals allowed over the previous seven games.
But after seeing their first 32 shots stopped and generating nothing on its three power plays, Morrison managed to chip Peeke’s shot past Marshall for Notre Dame’s first overtime victory this season.
Cale Morris made 16 of his 25 saves in the third period to improve to 9-1-0 on the season.
NO.7 MINNESOTA 2, NO.13 HARVARD 1 (OT)
Junior Tyler Sheehy scored 35 seconds into overtime, propelling the Gophers to a nonconference series sweep of the Crimson. Minnesota (9-4-1) improved to 6-2-0 outside Big Ten play and did so by throwing 50 shots at Harvard (2-5-0) and goalie Merrick Madsen
Sophomore Rem Pitlick broke through with an even strength goal late in the third, a career-best eight consecutive game with a point, but it was his play of chipping the puck out from the boards that sent the game-winning goal into motion, as Brent Gates crossing pass found Sheehy wide open at the left post.
Eric Schierhorn stopped 15 shots for Minnesota, which is now 7-3-0 against ranked teams this season.
MICHIGAN STATE 3, FERRIS STATE 1
Freshman forward Mitchell Lewandowski’s ninth goal of the season turned out to be the game-winner for the Spartans, who earn their first road victory of the season by getting quality special teams.
Michigan State (7-5-0) scored a short-handed tally in the first period, courtesy of junior forward Brennan Sanford, and converted 19 seconds into a second-period power play when Lewandowski beat Ferris State goalie Justin Kapelmaster (22 saves).
A night after stopping 27 shots in the Spartans’ overtime win, goalie John Lethemon gloved 29 shots and limited Ferris State (5-8-1) to only 1-for-6 on the power play.
After sweeping the home-and-home series, the Spartans extended their winning streak to a season-high three games.
PENN STATE 4, ARIZONA STATE 2
Sophomore Brandon Biro registered his second consecutive multi-point game to help lift Penn State past Arizona State, 4-2, to sweep a nonconference series at Gila River Arena. Four different Nittany Lions (7-7-0) scored Saturday, including the first career goals from junior Derian Hamilton and sophomore Brett Murray on a night where Penn State dominated in shots 49-25.
Since becoming a Division-1 program prior to the 2015-16 season, the Sun Devils (2-8-2) are winless against the seven teams currently in the Big Ten conference, going 0-10-1.