On to the finals.
After being on the wrong end of a weekend sweep against No. 13 Ohio State (21-11-6) last week at the Kohl Center, No. 18 Wisconsin needed a win against the Buckeyes on Friday to keep their NCAA hopes alive. The Badgers (20-14-1) took care of business, knocking off the Buckeyes 2-1 to advance to the Big Ten tournament finals against Penn State on Saturday night.
Sophomore captain Luke Kunin got the Badgers off to a 1-0 lead late in the first period, cleaning up a rebound in front of the Ohio State net to go top shelf for the score.
Ohio State tied the game in the second off of a Dakota Johnson score, but Will Johnson put Wisconsin up ahead for good, taking a Seamus Malone feed in front of a wide-open Buckeyes goal to tally the game winner.
Freshman Jack Berry was stellar, making 23 saves, shutting down the country’s third-ranked scoring offense. Berry looks to be the starter for the remainder of the season with snake-bitten sophomore Matt Jurusik injured in the penultimate game of the regular season.
With the winner of the WCHA tournament poised to steal a bid ahead of an at-large team and Robert Morris in the semifinals of Atlantic Hockey able to do the same, Wisconsin needs to beat No. 15 Penn State Saturday night to grab the Big Ten’s automatic bid in order to make the tournament.
Going into Saturday’s play, Penn State is second in the country in scoring offense, averaging 4.03 goals per game. Wisconsin went 1-3 against the Nittany Lions in the regular season. The Badgers were swept in Madison 6-3 and 5-2, but managed a 7-4 win in University Park before ending the season series with a 6-0 loss.
The puck drops in Detroit at 7:00 p.m. ET. The game can be seen on BTN.