Badgers disappoint in weekend series in Columbus
Wisconsin has failed to win a game since its Jan. 30 victory over Alaska at home.Image By: Jessi Schoville
The Badgers (1-11-4 Big Ten, 6-16-8 overall) squandered an opportunity to climb out of the Big Ten cellar this weekend, allowing late-game goals to the Buckeyes (5-8-3, 10-17-3) in both games, resulting in a tie and a loss.
In the first game Friday night, Wisconsin took a two-goal lead into the third period, before a late-game collapse struck again.
With under 12 minutes to go, freshman forward Matthew Freytag found the back of the net to put the Badgers up 4-2, a seemingly comfortable lead that should have allowed Wisconsin to capture just its second Big Ten win of the season.
But just over four minutes later, John Wiitala cut the deficit in half for Ohio State. The Badgers then held off the Buckeye attack for the next seven minutes, but again fell victim to a waning second goal.
With 48 seconds left in the game, Nick Schilkey beat freshman goalie Matt Jurusik to tie the score at four and crush the Badgers’ efforts to finally get back in the conference win column.
“We didn't get the job done in regulation. That's still part that we have to forge here together before we get to St. Paul," head coach Mike Eaves told UWBadgers.com Friday night.
The game went to an overtime period, where neither team scored. Wisconsin outshot Ohio State 4-0 in the extra frame, but could not light the lamp for the game-winner. The proceeding shootout then went five rounds without any goals. Freytag finally scored in the sixth round and Jurusik followed it up with a save to secure the shootout win for Wisconsin.
Despite yet another failure to play a complete sixty minutes of hockey, Eaves remained focused on the positives.
“It's technically a tie, but it feels—when you win in a shootout, especially for our young group, I think it's important they get a little positive feedback," Eaves said. "We haven't had much. It was good."
Saturday night’s game proved to be a high-scoring affair where the Badgers ultimately could not match the Buckeyes and fell 6-5.
Wisconsin again captured a 4-2 lead, this time in the second period after a goal by freshman forward Will Johnson. Just 47 seconds later, though, Miguel Fidler beat Jurusik to make it a one-goal game. Nick Schilkey followed this up with a goal of his own late in the second to even the score.
Luke Stork continued the Buckeyes hot streak, lighting the lamp two minutes into the third to put the Buckeyes on top 5-4.
Wisconsin fought back to tie up the game and sophomore forward Cameron Hughes scored the equalizer with under six minutes to go. This tie would prove to be short-lived though, as Wiitala delivered a dagger to the Badgers with just under three minutes left in the game.
“I thought we did a lot of really good things," Eaves said Saturday night. "But we're not doing enough things when we don't have the puck to make a difference in the game. We're scoring five goals, but we need that one more blocked shot, that one less turnover, that next zone mentality in some cases."
The lone bright spot for Wisconsin was its high powered offense as Johnson, Hughes, freshman forward Seamus Malone, junior forward Grant Besse and freshman forward Luke Kunin all earned multi-point games. Kunin scored his team-leading 15th goal of the campaign. The top line of Kunin-Hughes-Besse continues to excel on the offensive end.
“It's disappointing because they busted their fannies, but we’ve got to do more in order to create a win," Eaves said.
The Badgers take on Penn State in Madison next weekend and will need to find a way to close out games to avoid yet another conference sweep. If Wisconsin fails to do so, they will inch another step closer to finishing the season with an abysmal “1” in the Big Ten win column.
UWBadgers.com contributed to this report.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter