Wisconsin Badgers hockey made a big statement with a split vs. Minnesota last weekend. It showed that wasn’t a fluke on Thursday night, taking the series opener 3-1 over No. 8 Ohio State in Columbus.
As has been the case all season long, it was early play that dictated how this game was going to go. Unlike much of the first half of the season, it was to Wisconsin’s advantage this time.
UW put in a pair of goals in the first eight minutes and then hung on to take its second-straight game against a top 10 opponent. It wasn’t an easy start for the Badgers though, as they opened play with an early penalty to kill off.
Instead of doing that, they went ahead and put in a short-handed effort on a 3-on-2 rush up the ice. Captain Luke Kunin put the Badgers ahead at the 3:24 mark of the first period.
Kunin’s goal extended his points streak to seven straight games for the Badgers, as he continues to be one of the hottest players in college hockey.
Wisconsin doubled its lead just two minutes later, as Ohio State turned the puck over in the offensive zone. Cameron Hughes took advantage of it and skated up ice only to fire a cross-ice pass to Matthew Freytag, who netted the goal and a 2-0 advantage in the first six minutes of the game.
Here is Freytag's second goal of the season that put the Badgers up by two. pic.twitter.com/HokRmAypWB
— Wisconsin Hockey (@BadgerMHockey) January 27, 2017
Ohio State clamped down on UW’s attack after that, but it couldn’t find its way in to the back of the net either. Wisconsin finished the game on a deficit of shots, trailing the Buckeyes 27-25 on the night.
UW also committed six penalties in the victory, and looked to netminder Jack Berry to propel them forward for most of the game. He finished with 26 saves on the night, included 12 stops in the second period.
“Berry made big saves when he had to,” Granato said following the game. “He limited their second chances, especially on the (penalty kill). When they did get delivered to the net, we were in a good position to tie up and not give them a second crack at it.”
However, the second period was also the biggest output of offensive firepower for Ohio State. It also led to the lone goal of the night for the Buckeyes, with Matthew Weis putting in his eight goal of the season at the 4:28 mark of the second period.
Things were scrappy and tight after that, including a late scuffle that saw J.D. Greenway get double minors and see the gate for the Badgers. Meanwhile Ohio State’s Miguel Fidler only saw a two-minute stint in the box for his part in the affair.
With the two teams separated by just one goal, the Buckeyes were desperate for a game-tying goal and it came down to trying to pull its goaltender late to give it a man advantage in the offensive zone.
Instead, Wisconsin got the insurance goal it needed from Ryan Wagner with just 51 seconds left in the contest and the 3-1 final scoreline.
These two teams will have Friday night off, but that’s because they are going to be part of Super Saturday at Madison Square Garden. Wisconsin will take on Rutgers on the hardwood early in the day and it will be UW vs. OSU on the ice at 6p.m. CT. That game will air on BTN as part of its coverage of the basketball/hockey double-header at MSG.