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Saturday, June 22, 2024
Badger Men's Hockey v Ohio State Ben Dexheimer

Ohio State hands Badgers Big Ten tournament exit with Sunday defeat

The Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team lost game three of the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals to Ohio State Sunday, making a firm first-round exit.

The No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes handed the No. 2 Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team a first-round exit in the Big Ten Tournament after the Buckeyes won a series tiebreaker 3-1 Sunday in Madison.

The Buckeyes won game one Friday and the Badgers won game two Saturday, making Sunday a win-or-go-home scenario for both teams. The Buckeyes bid the Badgers farewell with the victory as they move on to face the Michigan State Spartans in the Big Ten Semifinals.

The Badgers will likely still qualify for the NCAA tournament, although they’ll sit out the next couple weeks until they learn which team they’ll face in the NCAA selection show.

Badgers behind from the start

The Badgers had an early chance to score after a puck deflected off forward Owen Lindmark, but a Buckeye cleared it off the line in the nick of time to keep the game scoreless. 

The Badgers went downhill from there. Defenseman Anthony Kehrer picked up a slashing minor penalty, and the Buckeyes power play unit returned to ravish the Badgers. A pad save from Badgers goaltender Kyle McClellan deflected right onto the stick of Buckeye Davis Burnside to tap in a wide-open shot.

The Badgers played unlike themselves for the rest of the game. Missed passes, turnovers, more misfortunes and every other weakness that ailed the team this season reared its ugly head Sunday.

The Buckeyes punished the Badgers once more after forward Scooter Brickey found too much time and space behind the Badgers net and banked the puck off McClellan’s skate to extend Ohio State’s lead to two.

The Badgers played a significantly better in the third period but still failed to compensate for their prior two poor periods. Ohio State eventually scored a goal on an empty Badgers net to extend their lead to 3-0 late in the period. The only consolation for the Badgers was an own goal as Ohio State defenseman Theo Wallburg tipped it into his own net with under three minutes remaining.

Missed opportunity, time to ‘move on to chapter three’

Despite the first-round exit in the tournament, the Badgers (26-11-2) will still make the NCAA tournament, although it’ll be a while before they find out who they’re playing and even longer before they play.

“The things that I've learned most from in life are the ones that hurt. This is an opportunity that went by us. Now we move on to chapter three,” said Wisconsin head coach Mike Hastings. “We had a regular season, a short playoff stint, and now we’ve got an opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament. We need to go in and understand we've still got the pen in our hands.”

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The Badgers didn’t get a single opportunity on the power play Sunday. The closest they got was when forward Sawyer Scholl got a chance on the breakaway and was interfered with by Ohio State’s Brent Jonhson. However, to Wisconsin’s discontent, Scholl was called on an embellishment minor for “diving”.

“We can sit back and read the book any way you want it from front to back. They got it done and we didn't and we have to own that,” Hastings said. “We can look back and point fingers — we gotta point thumbs and say, ‘Hey, we've got to find a way to make sure that we're prepared when we have the opportunity to pull the jersey over our shoulders and represent this program.’”

Regardless of what the NCAA tournament holds, Sunday’s loss means Badger seniors played their last game at the Kohl Center and marks the end of Badgers home games this season.

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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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