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Friday, June 21, 2024
Wisconsin Mens Hockey vs Michigan State

Achilles heel: Ohio State scores third-straight upset over Badgers in Big Ten quarterfinal game one

The Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team lost a critical game for their playoff hopes Friday.

The Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team lost 3-1 Friday to The Ohio State University Buckeyes in Madison in game one of a best-of-three Big Ten quarterfinal series.

That marks Wisconsin’s third-straight loss to Ohio State this season. To make matters worse, it’s the Buckeyes’ fifth conference win of the season, compared to Wisconsin’s 16 wins.

The Badgers must win Saturday’s matchup if they hope to keep their Big Ten Tournament run alive.

Wisconsin played catchup all game. Buckeyes defenseman Brent Johnson opened the scoring with a wrist shot into the top right corner of Badgers goaltender Kyle McClellan’s net.

The Badgers equalized a couple of minutes later. Badgers defenseman Zach Schulz's shot wide of the net bounced back in front of the net, allowing Badgers forward William Whitelaw to wrist it into the Ohio State net. 

The teams remained tied in period two, and Wisconsin failed to capitalize on several promising opportunities. That included their first power play opportunity of the night, where they got a golden opportunity. 

Two Buckeye penalty killers broke their sticks, meaning there were effectively only two Ohio State skaters with the ability to play the puck. However, nothing came of it as a stickless Buckeye deflected a poor shot into the netting.

Ohio State was comfortable playing defensive hockey, and it showed in period three. Buckeyes forward Max Montes scored a power play goal to take a 2-1 lead with over 17 minutes to play in the third period. The Badgers pushed and came within inches, but “within inches” doesn’t count on the scoreboard.

Montes scored on the empty net to secure a 3-1 win to send Wisconsin fans home unhappy.

“I mean, we're big boys. There's nothing really to be sad [about]. We just gotta go put a product out there and do it,” Badgers captain Mike Vorlicky said after the game. “We just got to get to work, and we'll do that tomorrow.”

Achilles Heel

Despite an awful regular season, the Buckeyes found Wisconsin’s Achilles’ heel. They’re comfortable waiting for mistakes and then applying heavy pressure on power plays to make their chances count.

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“You got to give them credit, but you've also got to look in the mirror and make sure that we understand that's just not going to be good enough at this time of the year,” Wisconsin head coach Mike Hastings said after the game.

The Badgers were their own worst enemy Friday as turnovers, poor special teams and everything that’s made for poor performances all season long reared their ugly heads. 

“Nobody's feeling sorry for the Badgers tonight,” Hastings said. “If we want to change that tune, we've gotta go out and play a better set of music, and we've got to get after it.”

The Badgers will face the Buckeyes again Saturday at 6 p.m. in Madison. Should Wisconsin win Saturday’s game, the series winner will be decided in a tiebreaker Sunday at 5 p.m. 

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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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