Wisconsin beats Ohio State, advances to B1G Tournament finale

DETROIT—Headed into the Big Ten tournament, the Wisconsin men’s hockey team knew what they had to do in order to make the NCAA tournament and that was to win the championship. The first step was accomplished on Friday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.

The No. 2-seeded Badgers (20-14-1) took down third-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes (21-11-6) in a tightly-contested game by a score of 2-1, advancing UW into the championship game on Saturday night.

“I think today’s game is what you want to see in college hockey,” head coach Tony Granato said. “I think every inch of ice was battled for and it was two teams that understood what was available to them. I thought our guys played one of their most solid games of the year.”

The first period was evenly played, with Wisconsin having a slight 7-6 shot advantage. Luke Kunin opened the scoring 17 minutes into the frame after collecting a rebound in front of the goal and firing it passed OSU goaltender Matt Tomkins. The captain’s 22nd goal of the year was assisted by JD Greenway and Tim Davison.

Thanks to the goal, the Badgers held a one-goal lead heading into the first intermission. Jack Berry, who made several key saves in the beginning of the period, finished with six stops in the stanza.

“When Matt (Jurusik) went down and Jack (Berry) had to step in the first time, I think that’s when we realized he was an amazing goalie and he’s been stepping it up ever since,” Will Johnson said.

The Cardinal and White looked to build a lead in the second period, but Ohio State’s top-ranked power play capitalized on a Ryan Wagner tripping penalty on Dakota Joshua’s 12th goal of the year to tie the game at 1-1 with 6:12 remaining in the middle frame.

Despite giving up a goal, the Badgers limited Ohio State to just 13 shots through the first two periods while holding a 22-13 shot advantage in that time period.

With UW’s season on the line heading into the third period, Johnson netted his 10th goal of the year just 1:30 into the final period of regulation to put the Badgers up 2-1, a lead they would not relinquish. The sophomore forward slotted the puck into an empty net following a great pass from Seamus Malone. Senior Aidan Cavallini also added his sixth assist of the season on the game-winning goal.

“It all started with him (Malone) winning the face-off and we were able to get the puck out of the defensive zone,” Johnson said. “That first move he made around the defenseman was unbelievable and him getting the puck over to me, I just had to tap the puck in.”

The Buckeyes continued to push for a tying goal but a five-minute major and game misconduct assessed to defenseman Josh Healey with 2:28 remaining in the game gave the Badgers a five-minute power play. UW was able to pass around the puck for most of the extended power play and saw out the rest of the game without any threat towards their net.

Berry finished with 23 saves on 24 shots in the game.

With the win, Wisconsin improved to 16-1-1 when scoring first.

“At the beginning of the week, we just talked about sticking to the game plan and wearing the other team out,” Kunin said. “We were able to do that for all three periods and everyone bought in to what we had to do in order to be successful tonight.”


Wisconsin drops season finale vs Ohio State 3-1

MADISON, Wis  Saturday night at the Kohl Center was filled with celebration, as four seniors were honored, all alumni were recognized and the 1977 NCAA championship team celebrated its 40th anniversary.

However, the Badgers (19-14-1, 12-8-0-0 Big Ten) were unable to finish the evening with a happy mood as they were defeated by Ohio State (20-10-6, 11-8-1-1) by a 3-1 score at the Kohl Center.

“The effort was there. I wouldn’t question our effort yesterday either,” head coach Tony Granato said. “I question the fact that we came out a little bit, waiting to see what was going to happen instead of trying to dictate how the game’s going to be played.”

OSU began the scoring just 2:46 into the first period on a power-play goal from Mason Jobst, his 18th of the year.

The Badgers looked to quickly respond, but they were outshot during the period, 10-7, and headed into the first intermission trailing by one.

Jack Berry made nine saves in the opening stanza.

The Buckeyes grabbed control of the game in the second period, adding a second goal 10:42 into the period on Kevin Miller’s 11th of the season.

Wisconsin wasn’t able to capitalize on two power plays during the period and were put in a three-goal hole on the latter man-advantage as Brendon Kearney scored a short-handed goal to make it 3-0 in favor of the Buckeyes with just over two minutes to play in the second.

“It’s pretty tough when they’re blocking a lot of shots. I think they had 20 plus shots this game,” Ryan Wagner said. “It’s kind of what coach said between the second and third periods, just throw a little fake in there and if another guy comes to block it throw it off the back wall. We can’t really be giving them all of those blocks like that because they build off that.”

In terms of shots on goal, the third period was the strongest for the Badgers, as they outshot OSU 10-5. Matt Ustaski seemed to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 3-1 after he beat Tomkins. However, the play was challenged and ruled offside, nullifying the marker.

Luke Kunin was eventually able to make it 3-1 on a power-play goal 11:37 into the final period. The captain finished off a cross-ice feed from Cameron

Hughes for his 21st of his sophomore campaign. Trent Frederic also earned an assist on the play.

The Cardinal and White continued to push for goals but they were unable to find the back of the net, falling 3-1 in their regular-season finale.

Berry finished with 25 saves on 28 shots on the evening.

“I mean obviously it’s disappointing,” Kunin said. “It’s not the way we wanted the weekend to go, but our group’s bounced back all year and we’ve had a lot of ups and downs but I believe in this group and what we can accomplish.”

The Big Ten tournament starts next weekend in Detroit and the Badgers will be the second seed in the single-elimination championship. UW will play on Friday, March 17 against the winner of Ohio State and Michigan State at 3:30 p.m. CT. Those two will play on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. CT.

The Big Ten championship games takes place Saturday, March 18 at 7 p.m. CT.


Buckeyes steamroll Badgers 5-1

MADISON, Wis. — Goaltending proved to be the difference as Ohio State defeated Wisconsin 5-1 at the Kohl Center Friday night.

The Badgers outshot the Buckeyes 29-17 but the Buckeyes’ Matt Tomkins stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced. Wisconsin, on the other hand, was forced to roll with the struggling Jack Berry due to an injury suffered in the second period by Matt Jurusik.

About five minutes into the contest, penalties by both teams equaled two minutes of four-on-four play, where Wisconsin seemed to have the upper hand in terms of possession. But lazy passing by the Badgers nearly resulted in turnovers on two occasions during the power play. That lack of discipline also meant a couple missed chances at shots on goal.

But it didn’t take long for Ohio State to take advantage of Wisconsin’s miscues. 8:54 into the first period, Miguel Fidler’s pass was deflected off a Wisconsin player and cleaned up by Drew Brevig , who found the net while surrounded by white jerseys. It only took three minutes for the score to become lopsided in the Buckeyes’ favor. David Gust scored his 16th goal of the year just seconds after the puck was dropped for a faceoff in Wisconsin’s zone.

The second period was more of the same, as Dakota Joshua scored with 12:56 left before intermission to make it 3-0 Ohio State. That appeared to end Berry’s night, replaced by Jurusik. But after the Badgers struck back on a Matt Ustaski power play goal, Jurusik would leave the game with an injury and Berry would re-enter the game.

Berry’s nightmare continued at the 14:22 mark after Fidler showed his play-making ability on a deke move to give the Buckeyes a 4-1 lead. The Kohl Center crowd went silent after realizing Wisconsin is just 5-9-0 when opponents score four or more goals. Down by three, the Badgers are facing a 1-10-1 record when trailing after two periods.

Wisconsin tried to mount a comeback in the third period, but a goal was disallowed because of a J.D. Greenway penalty on the Badger end of the ice. The last time Wisconsin had overcome a three-goal deficit was Feb. 6, 2004 against North Dakota. To make matters worse, the Buckeyes tacked on another goal just moments later when Mason Jobst found the back of the net on a power play.

Frustrations came to a head with 5:25 remaining when Seamus Malone received a five-minute major penalty for spearing and a game disqualification.

Koenig expects to start for Badgers vs Ohio State

MADISON, Wis. — Senior guard Bronson Koenig played through a left calf injury in Sunday’s win over Maryland and told reporters Tuesday night that he expects to be back in the starting lineup Thursday night at Ohio State.

Koenig suffered the injury Jan. 24 against Penn State, which caused a sharp decline in his play the next five games. His Big Ten season average of 57.5 percent from three-point range and 51.5 percent from the field dipped to 22.6 and 25.5 percent, respectively. He then missed the Feb. 16 contest at Michigan — his first time sitting out due to injury. That’s why his 31 minutes of action in the win over Maryland was significant.

“I didn’t know how many minutes I had played until I looked at the stat sheet after the game,” Koenig said Tuesday following practice. “I was kind of surprised and surprised at how good I felt.”

All nine of Koenig’s points against the Terrapins came in the second half after adjusting to playing off the bench.

Koenig acknowledged that he intends to play Thursday night in Columbus, and that “rest is key at any point of the season but especially at this point. I don’t think anybody is really 100 percent.”

Wisconsin hot in 89-66 win over Ohio State

MADISON, Wis. — Bronson Koenig scored 21 points and was 5-of-7 from three-point range in Wisconsin’s 89-66 win over Ohio State at the Kohl Center Thursday night.

The Badgers overcame a 2-for-14 performance from deep against the Boilermakers, seemingly unable to miss from distance, converting on 12-of-22 attempts (54.5 percent).

“After a shooting performance like [the one against Purdue], it’s always nice to come home,” Koenig said of the team’s bounce back performance. “I feel like we always shoot really well [at the Kohl Center]…It was good to finally see the ball going in for everybody.”

Free throws were an area the Badgers struggled, converting on just 33.3 percent (5-of-15) attempts on the night. That included an 0-for-4 performance from Ethan Happ and 1-for-5 for Nigel Hayes. But Wisconsin made up for that in other areas, namely second-chance points, where the Badgers held the advantage over the Buckeyes 28-9.

“Those second chances really just demoralized the other team, especially when we were getting to the free throw line,” Vitto Brown said. “I think that was probably the most important thing in terms of getting the momentum swinging in our direction.”

Brown finished with 12 points of 5-of-9 shooting, grabbing five rebounds and adding two assists.

Also worth noting:

Wisconsin held a special halftime ceremony to honor longtime friend of the program, Albert “Ab” Nicholas, who passed away this summer. He and his wife have been some of the biggest donors of the University and helped establish scholarships for students. Beginning next season, the Kohl Center floor will be known as “Ab Nicholas Court.”

OSU remains No. 2, UW drops to 10 in AP poll

MADISON, Wis. — A 30-23 overtime loss to Ohio State only cost Wisconsin two spots in the latest Associated Press poll released Sunday afternoon, as the Badgers become the 10th-ranked team in the nation.

Alabama received 60 of the 61 first-place votes to remain atop the poll, while Ohio State remained in the No. 2 position after surviving Wisconsin at Camp Randall Saturday night. The entire poll is below.

1. Alabama (60 first-place votes)
2. Ohio State
3. Michigan (1)
4. Clemson
5. Washington
6. Texas A&M
7. Louisville
8. Nebraska
9. Baylor
10. Wisconsin
11. Houston
12. West Virginia
13. Florida State
14. Boise State
15. Florida
16. Oklahoma
17. Arkansas
18. Tennessee
19. Utah
20. Western Michigan
21. Auburn
22. North Carolina
23. Ole Miss
24. Navy
25. LSU