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Friday, June 14, 2024
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Badgers crack under pressure in series loss to Ohio State

The Badgers lost both games to Ohio State, forsaking the chance to take the lead in the Big Ten standings and leaving the series with just one point to show for it.

The No. 4 Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team lost 2-3 Friday and 1-3 Saturday to The Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus in their worst series this season.

The Badgers played for a chance to take the lead in the Big Ten, entering the series trailing the Michigan State Spartans by five points. With the Spartans two games ahead of Wisconsin and not playing this weekend, two wins would’ve put the Badgers at first.

Ohio State only won two conference games all season before entering the series, making them the clear underdogs. But they exposed every single Badger weakness to sink the team.

Game one was quiet offensively for both teams through the first two periods. Badger Jack Horbach scored the first goal of that contest five minutes into the third period in a well-built offensive breakaway.

The defenses fell apart late as the offenses scored three goals with under six minutes to play in the game. The Buckeyes’ Michael Gildon tied the game at 1-1 with six minutes to play, but the Badgers retook what could have been a game-winning 2-1 lead with just three and a half to play. 

However, the Buckeyes pulled the goaltender for an extra attacker and tied the game 2-2 in the last minute of regulation to send it into overtime.

The teams traded looks during the 3-on-3 overtime period, but the Buckeyes scored on the breakaway to secure an upset with just 22 seconds left in the extra period.

The Badgers’ top-five nationwide defense in goals allowed somehow put an even worse foot forward in game two. 

The Buckeyes’ Cam Thiesing scored with under four minutes to play in the first period. Less than a minute later, Davis Burnside scored to put the Badgers behind by two. Wisconsin didn’t have it in them to come back from the 0-2 deficit.

David Silye scored about halfway through the second period on the power play, and there was hope for the Badgers’ comeback. Two minutes later, however, Ohio State’s Joe Dunlap scored to bury the hatchet 3-1. 

Wake up call for Badgers in worst series all season

This was only the second time this season the Badgers lost both games in a series since they played then-ranked No. 11 Michigan State on Nov. 17 and 18. Friday and Saturday marked the first time the Badgers have lost two consecutive games to unranked teams.

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Badgers goaltender Kyle McClellan, usually the pillar for his defense when they needed him most, looked unlike himself with poor rebound control and a 0.870 save percentage on Friday and 0.897 percentage on Saturday.

The Badgers even managed to falter in overtime Friday, receiving a penalty for too many players on the ice. They were lucky to have Ohio State bail them out with a hooking penalty a minute later, though they’d still pay the price.

The Badgers have just four more games left to play, two of which will be against the Big Ten-leading Spartans. To remain competitive for the number one slot, they’ll first have to take down Penn State in a two-game series on Feb. 23 and 24. 

If the offense continues to sputter the way it did in Columbus, there’s not much the defense will be able to do to keep Wisconsin competitive as playoff hockey nears.

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Ian Wilder

Ian Wilder is a Sports Editor and former senior staff writer for The Daily Cardinal. He’s formerly covered the men’s hockey beat, state politics and features. Follow him on Twitter at @IanWWilder.


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