MSU hockey beats Wisconsin 5-2 to win program's first Big Ten title: 'That's something they'll have the rest of their lives'

MADISON, Wis. – Behind graduate senior Reed Lebster's third-period, tie-breaking goal and freshman Trey Augustine's 44-save performance, Michigan State skated away with a 5-2 win over Wisconsin on Friday night to capture the program's first Big Ten title and first conference title in 23 years.

"I'm proud of our guys, and with this group, we've played some really good teams," MSU coach Adam Nightingale said. "When you talk about a regular-season championship, we want to keep playing hockey, but the body of work with no night off in our conference, that's something that they'll have for the rest of their lives."

Following Lebster's goal to give MSU a 3-2 lead with 7:10 remaining, senior forward Jeremy Davidson and sophomore forward Tiernan Shoudy added empty-net goals to seal the win.

RELATED: Reed Lebster is living his dream playing hockey for MSU. His game-winning goal Friday delivered the Spartans a Big Ten title.

As the final horn sounded, MSU's bench quickly mobbed Augustine behind the net he protected all night. Augustine's save on a breakaway chance by the Badgers with 11 minutes to play kept the game deadlocked before MSU took the lead four minutes later.

"That urgency and that mindset that we just needed to win one game and one period, it's 20 minutes and we were able to do that," Davidson said. "We've made some huge accomplishments, but we've got a long season left and a lot of things that we can do."

RELATED: Couch: MSU's hockey team is a wonderful story. Now with a tangible legacy — as Big Ten champs.

MSU has officially locked up the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will have a bye next week as it awaits its semifinal opponent at Munn Ice Arena.

MSU plays at Wisconsin again Saturday night with a 9 p.m. puck drop.

The Michigan State hockey team poses with the 2023-2024 Big Ten regular-season trophy following its 5-2 win over No. 4 Wisconsin on March 1, 2024 at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.
The Michigan State hockey team poses with the 2023-2024 Big Ten regular-season trophy following its 5-2 win over No. 4 Wisconsin on March 1, 2024 at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.

Here's everything that happened, from our live updates:

Badgers strike early

19:13 - Junior defenseman Daniel Laatsch whistles a shot from point through traffic in front of MSU goaltender Trey Augustine to give the Badgers a 1-0 lead just 47 seconds into the game.

Levshunov ties it on McClellan blunder

14:32 - MSU settled in through the first five minutes after giving up an early goal, and as freshman defenseman Artyom Levshunov gained the zone, he fired a shot that went right through the glove of Wisconsin goaltender Kyle McClellan.

It's an uncharacteristic mistake from McClellan, who boasts a .932 save percentage and a 1.90 goal against average.

First chances with the man advantage for both sides

11:11 - Wisconsin defenseman Anthony Kehrer trips up MSU forward Tommi Mannisto, leading to the first power play of the game.

With six seconds left in the power play, MSU forward Joey Larson commits a hooking minor and the Badgers earn a power play as well.

Penalty kill comes up big on both sides

13:11 - Both teams fail to capitalize on the power play as MSU defenseman Maxim Strbak and Wisconsin forward Simon Tassy exchange some shoves in front of the MSU net.

Wisconsin is outshooting the Spartans 12-4 in the first period.

MSU takes the lead late in the first

1:49 - At center ice, two Wisconsin players collided, leading to graduate senior Reed Lebster picking up the loose puck, springing a 2-on-1 break for the Spartans.

Lebster dished it over to senior forward Jeremy Davidson, who blasted a one-timer past McClellan to give MSU a 2-1 lead late in the first period.

Shoudy to the sin bin

19:20 - Sophomore forward Tiernan Shoudy cross-checked Wisconsin forward Charlie Stramel in the Badgers' offensive zone, leading to a power play chance that could carry over into the start of the second period.

Spartans lead 2-1 after the first period

Augustine, after giving up a goal on the first shot of the game, has kept MSU in it, making 18 saves, including big-time ones during Wisconsin's power play chances.

"We were kind of chasing a little bit in that first period," Augustine said. "For. us to get out of there up one, there's not much more you could ask for, and I was just doing my job back there to give the boys some confidence."

MSU has capitalized twice on two Wisconsin turnovers in the first period while putting seven shots on net.

Entering the second period, MSU has 1:21 to kill in Shoudy's cross-checking penalty.

MSU Goals: Levshunov (9) from Larson (16); Shoudy (9) at 5:28. Davidson (9) from Lebster (11) at 18:11.

Second period underway

3:10 - MSU and Wisconsin are back on the ice for the middle frame, and the Spartans were able to kill off the remaining time in Shoudy's minor to return to full strength.

MSU forward Isaac had a great chance moments later, but his shot just went wide.

Strbak punished for big check

10:29 - Strbak delivered a huge hit on Wisconsin forward Mathieu De St. Phalle along the boards in the neutral zone.

After a lengthy review, Strbak is assessed a major penalty for boarding with no game misconduct. Wisconsin will head to a full five- minute power play.

Badgers level it up

12:33 - St. Phalle, who received the brunt of Strbak's major penalty, gets some revenge, tipping a point shot from defenseman Ben Dexheimer past Augustine to tie the game at 2-2.

MSU will have just under three minutes left to kill in Strbak's major penalty for boarding.

Spartans limit the damage to just one

15:57 - Strbak's penalty is complete, and St. Phalle's game-tying goal is the only damage. Augustine makes four saves during the man advantage, and the Spartans return to full strength

All tied up through two

MSU and Wisconsin will head into the final 20 minutes all tied up at 2-2 on St. Phalle's game-tying power-play goal.

MSU is being outshot by the Badgers 34-14 through two periods while getting beat in the face-off circle 33-18.

Third period underway

2:27 - MSU and Wisconsin are back on the ice, both looking to break the deadlock in the final frame. MSU freshman forward Gavin O'Connell almost makes it happen on a 2-on-1 rush, but McClellan makes the save.

Big chance for the Spartans

5:25 - Wisconsin's Sawyer Scholl heads to the box for roughing on MSU's Tanner Kelly after the whistle. Spartans head to the man advantage looking to take the lead.

Badgers back to full strength for 20 seconds

8:07 - MSU generates a couple of shots on McClellan, but has its most threatening chances blocked as the Badgers were able to kill off the Scholl minor.

But, Kehrer commits a slashing minor just seconds later and MSU returns to the power play. Augustine makes a huge breakaway save on Tassy midway through the power play to keep it level.

Lebster puts MSU in front

12:50 - Lebster jumped on a loose puck and gained the offensive zone, crashing the net before sliding a shot between McClellan's legs, putting MSU just over seven minutes away from a Big Ten regular season title.

Spartans inch closer

18:00 - MSU is two minutes away from winning over Wisconsin in regulation. Augustine is up to 44 saves, and Wisconsin has pulled McClellan for an extra attacker and used its timeout.

Empty-netters seal the deal

Davidson scored an empty-net goal with just under two minutes to play, his second of the night, and Shoudy added one with 30 seconds to play to ice the game for the Spartans.

Contact Nathaniel Bott at and follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @Nathaniel_Bott

This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: MSU hockey beats Wisconsin 5-2 to win program's first Big Ten title