When you're a deep, veteran team, you expect contributions up and down the lineup. Wisconsin got that Friday night, receiving goals five goals from five different players in a 5-3 victory over Big Ten foe Ohio State.
The Badgers were buoyed by goals from a few players who haven't dented the score sheet much this season. Joe Faust and Morgan Zulinick both notched their second goals of the season Friday, while freshman Jedd Soleway appeared to net the first goal of his Wisconsin career to ice the victory on the power play with 1:31 to play in the third period.
Soleway's goal was later changed to Joseph LaBate after the game was completed.
"We needed those guys," Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said after the game. "They haven't contributed much offensively, but they took advantage of their chances tonight to help us win."
Wisconsin received an early goal from Jake McCabe just 2:20 into the first period, but didn't turn on the intensity up until around the mid-way point of the second period.
"The more the game went on, we got better," Eaves said. "Still made some mistakes, saw some guys flinch with the puck a bit, but we found a way to get five goals and get a win."
While it was nice to receive contributions from some unheralded options, it was the Badgers' top line scoring back-to-back goals in the second period that gave Wisconsin a lead heading into the third period.
Zulinick tied things up 14:30 into the second when he ripped a slapper off a feed from Mark Zengerle that pinballed its way past Ohio State goaltender Matt Tompkins.
On their very next shift, that same line with Zulinick, Zengerle and Barnes would give the Badgers a lead heading into the break. Once again it was Zengerle setting things up, picking off a pass behind the net and finding a streaking Barnes coming into the zone to give UW a 3-2 lead.
Barnes finished the night with a goal and an assist while Zengerle had a pair of helpers.
"I think the biggest thing that we did was win battles in the corner and when we got the puck, we brought it to the net and we had guys at the net and we didn't hesitate to make that extra pass," Barnes said after the game. "We brought it to the net and we had some good bounces tonight."
"They were a good force tonight," Eaves said of his top line.
Wisconsin would extend its lead just 0:42 seconds into the third period on Faust's second goal of the season. That goal would eventually stand up as the game winner.
A short-handed goal from David Gust gave Ohio State hope in the waning minutes, but LaBate's tally on the power play 64 seconds later sealed the deal for the Badgers in front of 11,328 fans at the Kohl Center.
With the win, Wisconsin pushed its home record to 13-1-1 on the year. A big reason for that success is due to the student section, who was phenomenal Friday night.
"What a great student section," Eaves said. "It was packed from top to bottom. Even tomorrow night, it's supposed to be more, should be a lot of fun."
Wisconsin hosts Ohio State in the series finale Saturday night at 7 p.m CT. Fans are encouraged to wear white, as the athletic department is planning a "white out" for the contest. Free pompoms will be given away at the Kohl Center.
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