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Wisconsin men's hockey: Ohio State takes 5 of 6 points with 2-0 shutout of Badgers

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Wisconsin finishes the regular season 4-25-5 and will face Michigan in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament next Thursday in Detroit.

Joel Rumpel made 40 saves on Saturday but it wasn't enough to stop the Buckeyes.
Joel Rumpel made 40 saves on Saturday but it wasn't enough to stop the Buckeyes.
Larry Radloff Photography

The most painful regular season in Wisconsin hockey history has finally come to a conclusion.

In front of a paid attendance of 11,945 at the Kohl Center in Madison on Saturday, the Wisconsin men's hockey team concluded the regular season with a 2-0 loss to Ohio State.

The Badgers finished with a regular season record of 4-25-5. The 25 losses are a school record.

The UW coaching staff has been preaching improvement to the media and fans over the second half of the season. The only problem? This team hasn't been getting any better.

Over Wisconsin's final seven games of the season, the Badgers had an 0-6-1 record and were shut out in five of seven games. UW scored just four total goals and were 1-for-26 on the power play with an atrocious kill-rate of 74 percent on the PK.

Even if you tried, it's hard to have numbers worse than that.

When asked for his opinion on the regular season, head coach Mike Eaves had no comment.

"Well, I'll be honest with you and say that I haven't thought about it," Eaves said. "Before I answer that, I'd probably like to sit back and take some time to really answer that properly."

Saturday's game was a similar script to what has happened the majority of the season. Goaltender Joel Rumpel was phenomenal, stopping 40 of 42 shots. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough, as Wisconsin's offense generated just 17 shots and no goals in the game.

The Badgers finish the regular season ranked No. 56 of 59 in scoring offense, averaging just 1.71 goals per game. The only teams that rank below Wisconsin are Alabama-Huntsville, Lake Superior State and Princeton.

After a scoreless first period on Saturday, Ohio State opened the scoring 8:54 into the second stanza. The goal scorer? Middleton, Wisconsin native Tyler Lundey.

That shouldn't come as much of a surprise. The former Madison Capitols AAA forward now has four goals and five points in nine career games against his hometown Badgers.

Matthew Weis would extend OSU's lead to 2-0, and the Badgers couldn't rebound, falling to the Buckeyes by a pair on senior night.

The Badgers suffered injuries to Cameron Hughes and Jack Dougherty in the game, and also lost Matt Paape to ejection in the second period for a checking from behind penalty.

Dougherty eventually returned to the game in the third period, and while Hughes' injury appeared serious, the freshman told Bucky's 5th Quarter after the game there were no fractures, and he only has a bruised elbow.

"There's not one young man in that locker room that didn't want to play really well tonight, but it just didn't happen," Eaves said after the game.

Regardless of tonight's result, Wisconsin was locked into the No. 6 seed for the upcoming Big Ten tournament next week at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Minnesota's win over Penn State to clinch the Big Ten regular season championship locked the Badgers into a first-round quarterfinal matchup with Michigan on Thursday night.

Speaking of Minnesota's Big Ten championship, it should be applauded that the Gophers have won four consecutive regular season championships under Don Lucia. Especially given the fact Mike Eaves has yet to win even one regular season championship during his 13 seasons behind the Wisconsin bench.

Looking forward to the Big Ten tournament in Detroit next week, the Badgers have a surprising amount of confidence for a team that needs three wins in three days but only has four for the entire season.

"We have a lot of guys on this roster who know how to win conference championships," junior defenseman Eddie Wittchow said. "My freshman and sophomore years we did it, Rumps (Joel Rumpel) has been a part of it. We've done it the last two years, so I think with that experience, along with the youth on our team that are now in full force, ready to play, I think we can make noise going forward."

At this point in the year, it would be easy for the Badgers to be discouraged, given the results of the regular season. Senior goaltender Joel Rumpel thinks otherwise.

"No not at all," Rumpel said. "Looking forward to it, whoever we are playing in the first game in Detroit: They better look out."

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