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Badgers earn sweep of MSU in OT Thriller

It took an extra period, but the Wisconsin Badgers got the brooms out anyway in a 4-3 victory over the Michigan State Spartans. 

The sweep of MSU at Munn pushed Wisconsin’s win streak to five games and kept them atop the Big Ten standings heading in to a crucial eight-game stretch.

It was also a rare feat, as the Badgers won for the first time in forever with a deficit after two periods.

That streak looked like it would continue as Michigan State had all the momentum going in to the third period. Instead, a pair of goals in the first 11 minutes of the period gave Wisconsin a 3-2 lead.

it wouldn’t hold though, as the Spartans got a goal with just 1:07 to play in regulation. However, the Badgers had an answer like it did all night in a gritty effort, with Jake Linhart smashing home his third goal of the season at the 1:34 mark of overtime to give Wisconsin all three points.

Michigan State came out ticked off after Friday night’s 6-3 loss to the Badgers. It showed as they physically took it to Wisconsin early on and out-shot the Badgers to the tune of 16-8 in the first period.

However, goaltender Matt Jurusik was up to the task from the opening puck drop. He kept the Spartans in check with some solid work between the pipes

Things appeared to be heading for a 0-0 scoreline at the first intermission, but as dominant as the Spartans were, it was Wisconsin that would go in to the first intermission up 1-0.

It was a strange set of events that allowed it to happen as well. Peter Tischke was called for a cross-check at the 17:56 mark, just as Michigan State’s Brennan Sanford appeared to put one in the back of the net.

However, the refs ruled that Wisconsin possessed the puck before Sanford got a shot off. That meant not goal for the Spartans and just a man-advantage for the next two minutes.

It didn’t take long for that key call to come in to play, as Luke Kunin took a bouncing puck off the ensuing face-off and slotted home a short-handed goal to give UW a 1-0 lead out of nowhere.

Wisconsin killed off the rest of the penalty and took a 1-0 lead in to the first intermission, despite being out-gunned all period long by the Spartans.

The strange nature of the first period carried over to the second, as confusion reigned for most of the period. MSU and Wisconsin played nice for the first eight minutes of the period, but it wasn’t to last.

As Jurusik smothered a puck in front of his net, the two teams went at it and the puck went across the line. Wisconsin’s J.D. Greenway and Michigan State’s Mason Appleton went at it with punches, meanwhile Rhett Holland was getting credit for a goal at the 8:31 mark of the 2nd period.

Replay showed Holland smashing in to Will Johnson and dislodging the puck, with the goal standing and Greenway getting a game misconduct for a series of right hands thrown at Appleton.

All of the scuffling in front of the net only allowed a three-minute advantage on the major penalty to Greenway, and the Badgers managed to kill off that penalty.

However, the momentum seemed to be all Michigan State after that crazy sequence and Joe Cox capitalized on the momentum with a diving back-hand effort that snuck under Jurusik’s pad for MSU’s first lead of the series.

It remained 2-1 to the Spartans as the two teams went to the locker rooms for the second intermission.

The third period would see the craziness settle down between the two teams, and that was advantage to Wisconsin.

Skating with just five defenseman thanks to an injury to Tim Davison on Friday night and Greenway’s game misconduct for fighting, the Badgers went on the offensive in the final period.

Eventually things worked in Wisconsin’s favor, and it was the hot stick of freshman forward Trent Frederic that would get things back to even at the 6:58 mark of the third period. It was his 10th goal of the season and his third of the weekend.

Four minutes later a great individual effort from Cullen Hurley to keep a puck in the offensive zone was rewarded. A blast from Corbin McGuire at an rough angle found the stick of Cameron Hughes, who was able to redirect the puck past Lethemon and give Wisconsin the lead back at 3-2.

Wisconsin continued to look dangerous for most of the rest of the third period. But, a wild game wouldn’t be complete without a wild finish.

Just as Michigan State pulled its goaltender searching for a game-tying goal, that’s exactly what they got as Sanford got the goal he didn’t get earlier in the game. With just 1:07 left in the game it was 3-3 and the two teams headed to overtime.

Michigan State took it to the Badgers early in overtime, forcing a couple of big glove saves from Jurusik. However, it took just one offensive rush for Wisconsin to put the game to an end.

Jake Linhart found himself open in front of the net and guided it in for the sweep.

Wisconsin improves to 8-2-0 in Big Ten play and the 24 points put the Badgers on top of the Big Ten standings heading in to a huge weekend series against Penn State.

The Badgers will play host to that weekend series, with both games starting at 7p.m. CT and television on the Wisconsin Channel.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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