Men's Hockey: Badgers homestand ends after splitting series with Ohio State

Junior defenseman Jake McCabe scored the first goal in the Badgers' win on Friday.

Image By: Courtney Kessler

The nature of this past weekend’s series between Wisconsin and Ohio State mimicked that of a long-standing rivalry, not one that met on the ice for the first time ever.

The Wisconsin men’s hockey team (5-3-0 Big Ten, 14-7-1 overall) hosted the Buckeyes (2-5-1, 12-9-1) in Madison and split the two games, winning 5-3 Friday night before falling 3-1 Saturday in front of the largest crowd thus far in the season.

Junior defenseman Jake McCabe kicked off scoring for the Badgers Friday shortly after the first period got underway. The Hobey Baker candidate shot the puck in front of the net on a wraparound and went five-hole, beating Buckeye freshman goaltender Matt Tomkins.

About five minutes later, Ohio State junior forward Nick Oddo received a five-minute major and game misconduct for a check from behind on Wisconsin senior forward Jefferson Dahl and was ejected from the game. However, the Badgers’ power play woes continued. After they were unable to capitalize on the man advantage, junior left winger Matt Paape went to the box for holding, which resulted in Ohio State getting the equalizer from junior left winger Ryan Dzingel.

The teams headed into the second period tied at 1-1, but it was Ohio State that broke through just past the halfway mark, earning their second power play goal of the night from freshman right wing Nick Schilkey.

The Badgers answered with two more goals from redshirt freshman left winger Morgan Zulinick and senior right winger Tyler Barnes, who finished the night with three points. Senior center Mark Zengerle assisted both goals and now leads the league with 21.

“[Zengerle] battles down low and he can find guys, too,” Zulinick said after the game. When I play with a guy like that, I just have to get open and he’ll find me.”

Wisconsin extended its lead in the third period on a quick goal by senior defenseman Joe Faust from McCabe and Barnes.

Ohio State earned one more tally on a shorthanded goal by freshman left winger David Gust, who beat junior goaltender Joel Rumpel. But Wisconsin freshman forward Jedd Soleway finally managed to make good use of a power play and earned his first goal as a Badger sealing the 5-3 victory.

“In the first period, our concern was to get ourselves going after we had two weeks off,” head coach Mike Eaves said.“We weren’t connecting dots, we weren’t catching the puck and we weren’t used to the pace and the battling. But because we didn’t panic and because we had the maturity level, I think that eventually led to us staying on top of it and getting our game going.”

Saturday night brought a crowd of 15,021, the most since 2010, and a “whiteout” throughout the Kohl Center.

The game pace didn’t slow down from the night before, as both teams came out aggressive on the forecheck and racking up penalties, for a first period total of 16 minutes.

Unfortunately for the Badgers, the theme of the night seemed to be missed opportunities as none of their scoring chances could find the back of the net. After once again failing to convert on the man advantage, it seemed Wisconsin junior left wing Brad Navin had gotten the Badgers on the board first on a wraparound attempt. However, after the officials waved the goal off on the ice and went to video review, it was clear that the puck slid across the mouth of the goal and never actually crossed the line.

After ample opportunities for both teams on the power play, the first period ended with no score from either side.

Halfway through the second period the Badgers managed to light the lamp on a goal from Zengerle assisted by senior defenseman and captain Frankie Simonelli.

Celebrations were short lived, however, when just over a minute and a half later, OSU right wing Nick Schilkey went top-shelf on a backhand shot for his second goal of the series, besting Rumpel, who was in goal for a second night in a row.

With five minutes left to go in the period, Oddo found the puck in front of the net following a scrum and gave Ohio State the lead at 2-1.

There certainly was no lack of trying from the Badgers as they had plenty of chances to tie the game, but a mixture of sharp goaltending and strong defensive play from Ohio State stymied the Badger offense. Perhaps the best opportunity came from Zengerle who had a 2-on-1 break with Zulinick. Zengerle chose to shoot the puck and in a matter of mere inches, his shot rang hard of the post.

“My post, I mean, there’s so many other chances we had,” Zengerle said postgame. “Give a little kudos to the [OSU] goalie, I guess. But at the same time we made some really nice plays… the chances were there.”

The third period was a back-and-forth battle between the Big Ten rivals, but an empty net goal from OSU junior forward Darik Angeli would cap the 3-1 victory. Saturday night was the first time since Nov. 30 that the Badgers have lost to a conference foe since being bested by Minnesota. Wisconsin ended its 12-game homestand with a 10-2-0 record.

Big Ten hockey continues as the Badgers travel to Michigan next week to take on the Wolverines.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Cardinal.