Wisconsin (0-2-0, 0-2-0 Big Ten) traveled to Columbus with hopes of taking down No. 14 Ohio State (4-0-0, 2-0-0) and beginning their young season in the win column. By Saturday afternoon, they were boarding the buses back to Madison with heavy hearts.
The Badgers dropped both games of their season opener to the Buckeyes, suffering a crushing loss in the second contest.
Wisconsin’s season kicked off as few others have after Ohio State was assessed a delay of game penalty for a pregame protocol violation. Wisconsin was unable to capitalize on the opening power play, attempting just one shot which was blocked.
Though Wisconsin controlled the pace of play for much of the first period en route to winning 12 of the period’s 17 faceoffs, a fatal miscue in the Badgers’ defensive-zone allowed the Buckeyes to strike first.
Moments after freshman center Charlie Stramel won a draw, senior Mike Vorlicky corralled the puck and attempted to pass to fellow defenseman Corson Ceulemans. The transfer was broken up by Ohio State’s Joe Dunlap, who swiftly sent the puck into the slot. It eventually found its way to the stick of Patrick Guzzo, who chipped in the shot at 13:11 in the first period to put Ohio State in front, 1-0.
Ohio State would add on to their lead early in the second thanks to Jaedon Leslie. With 13:33 left in the period, the senior forward buried a turnaround shot from the slot to bring the score to 2-0.
As the period trudged on, the Badgers found themselves with little to no answer for the Buckeyes, who recorded the first 13 shots on goal in the second. Momentum began to shift in favor of Wisconsin, however, following an Ohio State tripping penalty with 7:00 left. UW fired off two shots during the power play, as well as seven more over a subsequent 1:15 stretch.
Unlike the Badgers, Ohio State was able to take advantage of the power play. While on a five-on-three that arose from a major penalty issued to Vorlicky, OSU’s Stephen Halliday netted a goal at 15:30 in the third period to build onto the Buckeyes’ commanding 3-0 lead.
UW freshman Cruz Lucius ensured the Badgers would not go down without a fight, retaliating with a goal of his own – the first of his collegiate career – 1:19 later.
Junior Mathieu De St. Phalle kickstarted the scoring effort by finding freshman Ben Dexheimer on the point. After scanning the ice, the defenseman connected with Lucius on the back door to set up the easy tap-in goal with 16:48 left in the third.
Wisconsin continued to apply pressure throughout the third period – opting to pull goalie Jared Moe to utilize an extra attacker – but were unsuccessful in their attempts to overcome the final 3-1 deficit.
Looking to shake off the mistakes from the prior night’s loss, the Badgers came firing right out of the gate on Saturday night.
Freshman Jack Horbach got the scoring started late in the first period, providing Wisconsin with its first lead of the season. The young forward did it all himself, forcing a turnover on the Buckeyes blue line and finishing gracefully in front of the net at 16:28 to give UW a 1-0 advantage. Horbach’s goal was the first of his collegiate career.
The Badgers would waste little time before extending their lead to 2-0 in the first period. Taking advantage of an Ohio State hooking penalty, forward Brock Caufield netted a power play goal with 2:11 left in the first following precise passes from Stramel and De St. Phalle. The score was the first power play goal surrendered by Ohio State this season, breaking a streak of 13 consecutive killed penalties.
In the concluding minutes of the opening period, forward Dominick Mersch was assessed a major penalty for head contact, leaving Wisconsin down a man heading into the second. This disadvantage did little to slow down the Badgers, who tacked on another goal less than a minute into the period.
Senior Owen Lindmark displayed his blazing speed on the score, tracking down the puck behind Ohio State’s net and burying it home for the short-handed goal and 3-0 lead.
With the contest teetering towards a blowout, Ohio State came barreling back in the second to make it competitive.
Consecutive goals by OSU’s Travis Treloar and Cam Thiesing at 10:41 and 11:09 in the second period propelled the Buckeyes back into contention. The scoring barrage, which took all of 28 seconds, came to fruition moments after Vorlicky was tagged with a holding call.
Penalties would continue to trouble the Badgers in the third period. While clinging to a 3-2 lead, UW sophomore defenseman Corson Ceulemans was sent to the box for tripping with 9:06 left in the third. This proved to be costly, as Jake Wise snuck the puck past Moe’s outstretched glove at 11:52 to score Ohio State’s second power play goal and even the score at three apiece.
The final blow came off the stick of Ohio State’s Cole McWard, who found the back of the net on an offensive zone rush with 4:38 left in the game. The deciding goal capped off the Buckeyes’ three-goal comeback and 4-3 victory.
“We certainly weren't intending to try to sit on the lead but a major penalty and a couple other minors that followed and they got some momentum off of that,” Badgers coach Tony Granato said following the disheartening loss. “Obviously, we're disappointed we weren't able to get a big road win.”
Wisconsin has now started 0-2 for the second straight season, an undesirable feat the Badgers last accomplished in 1984 and 1985. They’ll look to rebound at home against St. Cloud State, with games scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14 and Saturday, Oct. 15.