The Wisconsin men’s hockey team is now 3-for-3 against top-10 teams in 2016-17.
Wisconsin (12-8-1 overall, 5-2-0-0 Big Ten) is headed for a big, primetime matchup with No. 8 Ohio State (12-5-6, 3-3-1-1) at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, but first the Badgers and Buckeyes tussled in a rare Thursday night game in Columbus. Fresh off an upset of No. 6 Minnesota at the Kohl Center last Saturday, the Badgers took it to Ohio State, coming away with the 3-1 victory.
The Wisconsin defense had been suspect all year long - coming into Thursday, the Badgers allowed 3.30 goals per game (49th of 60 D-I teams). With Ohio State absent defenseman Drew Brevig and senior forward Nick Schilkey, Wisconsin freshman goaltender Jack Berry held the Buckeyes’ second-ranked scoring offense to one goal and made 26 saves.
Sophomore captain Luke Kunin got the scoring started with a shorthanded goal just 3:24 into the first period, knocking a Jake Linhart pass past senior Ohio State goaltender Christian Frey. It was Kunin’s team-leading 15th goal of the year.
Matthew Freytag got the game-winner, putting the Badgers up 2-0 at 8:46 in the first period when junior assistant captain Cameron Hughes intercepted an Ohio State pass and dropped a pretty pass onto his stick for the assist.
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
Play got a bit chippy toward the end of the first as Trent Frederic and Ohio State’s Dakota Joshua each picked up matching cross-checking penalties at the end of the period.
Ohio State scored the only goal of the second period when junior left wing Matthew Weis found the back of the net off of a Mason Jobst assist.
Wisconsin held fast for the third period, and when Ohio State pulled Frey late in the third, Ryan Wagner added an empty-net goal at with nine seconds left in the game to seal the 3-1 victory.
With the win, Wisconsin has matched its win total for the past two years combined. The Badgers and Buckeyes run it back Saturday in New York under the lights at MSG. With the teams averaging nearly eight goals per game combined, expect the lamps to be lit.