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Friday, May 24, 2024
Badgers V. Ohio State Quarterfinal

Badgers fight back against Ohio State to stay in Big Ten Tournament

Despite a significant loss Friday, the Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team surmounted Ohio State Saturday in a win-or-go-home game to force a tiebreaker Sunday.

The Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes 4-2 Saturday in Madison to force a tiebreaker in the Big Ten quarterfinals.

The Badgers bounced back from game one, where they lost 3-1 to the Buckeyes in a significant upset. That made Saturday a must-win, and Wisconsin had just enough in them to tie the series at one game each.

The Badgers struck first during a power play with seven minutes to play in the first period. Badgers forward David Silye threaded the needle on a pass through a defender's legs, and forward Christian Fitzgerald put a bullet in the net on the one-timer. 

“I thought they bounced back from yesterday,” Wisconsin head coach Mike Hastings said after the game. “We were able to play with the lead, and at this time of the year it's difficult to win hockey games and for us to come out and get a lead with our power play definitely helped us momentum wise.”

Ohio State struck back on a power play of their own. With a minute left in the first period, Ohio State’s Matt Cassidy took a long pass across the slot and beat helpless Badgers goaltender Kyle McClellan on the one-timer. 

The Badgers decisively controlled the second period. Wisconsin scored in under four minutes. On an offensive rush, the Badgers peppered Ohio State netminder Kristoffer Eberly in net who stopped it again and again. Eventually, Badger Mathieu De St. Phalle passed the puck off in the slot for Silye to hammer into the net, giving Wisconsin a 2-1 lead.

They extended the lead to two shortly after with their second power play goal of the night. Badgers forwardOwen Mehlenbacher passed it across the slot onto defenseman Anthony Kehrer’s tape, and Kehrer one-timed it to extend Wisconsin’s lead to 3-1. A disallowed Ohio State goal for goaltender interference meant Wisconsin took that lead into the third period.

Ohio State got the game back within one in the third as a shot slid under McClellan’s pad and was inadvertently tipped into the net by Silye in an attempt to clear the puck. Buckeye Patrick Guzzo was credited for the goal.

“Unfortunately, [the puck] kind of rolls off my stick and gives them a little momentum,” Silye said after the game. “But we found a way to always be safe coming down the stretch and our [defensive core] was solid, and we found a way to finish it.”

Despite some pressure on McClellan, Badgers forward Cruz Lucius completed a three-point performance with a goal on the empty net to finish the game 4-2. 

Wisconsin ‘bounced back’ after poor game one

Despite a poor performance Friday night, Wisconsin turned things around Saturday.

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“Just like last night you need some guys to make some plays, and we did tonight. And they were rewarded for it,” Hastings said. “I was just happy to see the guys go out and play with some confidence because I thought they did that tonight.”

To top it off, McClellan put up an eye-staggering 37 saves out of 39 shots. He’s been a consistent performer all season long and continues to make highlight reel plays even in the playoffs.



Some players have been performing at higher levels recently and coming up big in clutch moments for the Badgers, and Mehlenbacher was one of them Saturday with a key assist on Kehrer’s goal.

“I also want to make sure we congratulate Owen Mehlenbacher for making that play. I think you're starting to see him really grow right now,” Hastings said. “He's playing some significant minutes and handling it very, very well. We're gonna need him to do it again tomorrow.”

The winner of Sunday’s game will advance to the semifinals against the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. If the Badgers win the quarterfinal, they’ll maintain their home-ice advantage, whereas Ohio State would travel to Minnesota.

The Badgers will play a win-or-go-home game against Ohio State on Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Kohl Center. The Golden Gophers will be watching with a tub of popcorn, having already punched their ticket into the semifinals after sweeping Penn State.

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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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