Ohio State and Wisconsin took the NHL-sized ice surface at St. Paul, Minnesota’s Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night to decide the inaugural Big Ten championship and the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Joel Rumpel, who got the goaltending nod for Wisconsin had a slightly better goals against average (1.97) than his adversary for Ohio State, Christian Frey, who had a 2.11 mark.
Ohio State had the first shot on goal of the game at nearly fifty seconds in as Nick Schilkey did the honors for the Buckeyes. Wisconsin followed at nearly two minutes in when Ryan Dzingel propelled the puck on net. The first few minutes were mainly a test for each of the goaltenders to get their feet wet and get comfortable with the idea of playing for a Big Ten title.
Ohio State got the game’s first goal came off Ryan Dzingel’s stick at 4:51 on even strength. Nick Oddo and Drew Brevig were credited with assists. Shots at the 5:20 mark (first TV timeout) were even at 3-3.
Ohio State scored the second goal of the game at 8:56 as Nick Oddo slammed the puck home. Nick Schilkey and Ryan Dzingel assisted Oddo.
There were no penalties in the first half period of hockey in St. Paul. The opening penalty in Wisconsin’s semifinal occurred at 7:17 while the first penalty in OSU’s game was at 11:27.
Shots were 7-7 at the 14:48 mark, and the game was still officially without its first penalty. At 19:04, Ohio State’s Drew Brevig would get an interference minor penalty. Shortly thereafter, Wisconsin’s Jake McCabe put the puck in the net to cut the lead in half. Mark Zengerle and Tyler Barnes would get assists. With all that in mind, the first period came to an end with OSU up a goal on Wisconsin and Wisconsin up 10-9 in shots on goal.
At 0:48, Ohio State’s Al McLean would be called for interference, giving Wisconsin a power play which was their second of the game. The Badgers failed to get much going on the power play, going shot-less with their advantage.
At 3:51, Wisconsin’s Michael Mersch was assessed a two-minute minor for boarding, giving the Buckeyes their opening opportunity on the man advantage on the night. The Ohio State power play got some time in the Wisconsin zone but that was about it as the power play ended without Brutus and the Buckeyes tying the game at two.
As 27:00 elapsed in St. Paul, twenty five total shots on goal were fired, at a 14-11 edge for Ohio State.
Wisconsin would get their third power play of the night when OSU’s Tyler Lundey would get cited for elbowing at 9:46. The Badger power play for Bucky and company was dreadful. Awful, even. That was, until 11:24. Morgan Zulinick would score, knotting the game at two. Jedd Soleway and Frankie Simonelli would be credited with assists.
Moments later, at 12:40, Clark Cristofoli would put Ohio State up 3-2 on even strength and he had assists from Max McCormick and Nick Oddo.
Wisconsin’s Kevin Schulze got caught for interference at 14:34, giving the Buckeyes their second man advantage situation of the night. After the penalty was over, Ohio State was unable to take advantage, thereby taking a one-goal lead into the warming house through forty minutes. Wisconsin had the shooting edge at 22-19 through forty.
The third period began with a Pong style game on both ends, and Wisconsin taking the first two chances of the period. As six minutes elapsed in the final frame though, shots on goal favored Bucky 25-21.
At 6:51, UW’s Nic Kerdiles was spotted for hooking, giving Ohio State a two-minute power play (their third of the night). The power play went up in smoke for the Buckeyes, but their get another at 10:35 as Grant Besse would go for goaltender interference.
The Buckeye power play couldn’t get anything going, but kept the one-goal lead with 7:24 left in the contest.
At 13:08, Ohio State's Tanner Fritz would score on even strength making it 4-2 OSU. Max McCormick and Clark Cristofoli would assist Fritz. Moments later, at 13:28, Jefferson Dahl would score on even strength off assists from Morgan Zulinick and Jake McCabe.
At 13:56, Wisconsin tied the game at four when Tyler Barnes ripped one home. Nic Kerdiles and Mark Zengerle would assist Barnes. Wisconsin thus registered its "never say die" attitude with Barnes' goal. Just to illustrate that point, each of the three goals in that stretch occurred a combined forty-eight seconds apart.
After Ohio State had the game seemingly in hand, Wisconsin fought the battle onward into overtime.Shots after regulation were even at thirty.
In the extra session, it was hard fought, up and down action with both teams, but after all was set and done, Wisconsin's Mark Zengerle pocketed the puck on even strength. Tyler Barnes and Nic Kerdiles were credited with assists. Shots on goal in the game finished 36-32 to Wisconsin. OSU finished 0-4 on power plays while Wisconsin went 2-3. A full box score can be accessed by clicking here.
The NCAA Tournament field will be announced Sunday at 12pm ET on ESPNU, giving us the sixteen teams eligible for this year’s event. I’ll post the official tournament bracket and TV schedule when it becomes available.
Geoff Discher is Examiner.com's National College Hockey Examiner as well as the Minnesota Golden Gophers Hockey Examiner. Leave a comment below, or feel free to reach him at Disch61@hotmail.com with comments, story ideas, or any general talk surrounding college hockey. You can find him on Facebook as well by clicking here and here, joining the conversation from the social media side as well. He's always chock full of fact and opinion.
Until next time, I’ll see you at the rink!