After winning the Big Ten regular season title last weekend, the No. 1 seeded Wisconsin Badgers have a bye in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament and await the winner of No. 5 seed Penn State vs. No. 4 seed Notre Dame.
The Badgers needed to sweep Michigan State last weekend and get some help from Michigan against Minnesota in order to win the regular season crown and, well, they got exactly what they needed.
The catalyst for their sweep of the Spartans, as he has been all season, was star sophomore forward Cole Caufield. The native of Stevens Point was named the Big Ten’s First Star of the week after scoring four points (three goals, one assist) in the two games against MSU. It was his second straight First Start award and fourth of the season (he was also named Third Star once).
On Friday night, Caufield had a goal and an assist in a 4-0 rout of Michigan State but it was his performance on Saturday that captured what he has meant to the team all season. MSU scored first and the Badgers were struggling to generate any offense until Caufield uncorked the beautiful shot (seen in the tweet above) on the power play just before the second period ended to tie the game. He then scored again in the third period which proved to be the game winning, and title winning, goal.
He finished the regular season leading the nation with 25 goals and 46 points, earning the Big Ten Scoring Champion crown for the second consecutive season.
Wisconsin led the Big Ten with a conference record of 17-6-1 for a winning percentage of .729, while Minnesota enters the tournament as the No. 2 seed after finishing this season with a .727 winning percentage and a 16-6-0 record in conference play. The Big Ten Tournament opens at 11 a.m. CST on Sunday while Monday’s semifinals start with the top-seeded Badgers battling the winner of Sunday’s Notre Dame-Penn State game at 3:30 p.m. CST. The championship game will be at 7 p.m. CST on Tuesday.
Every game will be broadcast on Big Ten Network and all games will be played at Compton Family Ice Arena on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. We will have more coverage of the men’s hockey tournament this weekend.