COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Wisconsin men’s hockey team enjoyed an early lead with two first-period goals. Those two goals in the first eight minutes of the game proved to be enough for the Badgers (12-8-1, 5-2-0-0 Big Ten) as they toppled Ohio State (12-5-6, 3-3-1-1) by a 3-1 score in Columbus.
Coming off of an exciting weekend against Minnesota at the Kohl Center, the Badgers looked to continue their success against top-20 teams, with Ohio State ranked eighth coming into the matchup on Friday night. They had previously beaten ranked teams Minnesota, Boston College and St. Lawrence.
Captain Luke Kunin began UW’s successful first period with a short-handed goal just 3:24 into the first, extending his point streak to seven games in the process. The sophomore directed a nice feed from Jake Linhart past Christian Frey on a 3-on-2 opportunity for his 15th goal of the season. Trent Frederic also earned an assist on the short-handed tally.
The Cardinal and White struck again 5:22 later as Matthew Freytag doubled the Badgers’ lead. Cameron Hughes collected an Ohio State turnover, skated into the zone and fired it cross-ice to Freytag who netted his second goal of the year.
“We made two good plays,” head coach Tony Granato said. “Obviously, the shorthanded one was huge. We got the lead and we got a lot better defensively as the game went on.”
The Badgers headed into the locker room up 2-0 as goalie Jack Berry stopped all seven shots he faced in the period.
The second period proved to be the strongest period offensively for Ohio State. However, despite outshooting the Badgers 13-6 in the middle frame, OSU only managed to put one past Berry, who played well in between the pipes for UW.
“Berry made big saves when he had to,” Granato said. “He limited their second chances, especially on the (penalty kill). When they did get delivered to the net, we were in a good position to tie up and not give them a second crack at it.”
Matthew Weis scored his eighth goal of the season, four and a half minutes into the second, to cut the Wisconsin lead in half. The Badgers would hold on to their slim one-goal lead heading into the final period of play.
Both teams continued to push for a goal in an even-played third period but the 2-1 score held up until Ohio State pulled their goalie with under two minutes to play. Wisconsin would end up capitalizing as Ryan Wagner found the empty net with 51 seconds to play and seal the Badgers’ 3-1 victory.
“I know they’re going to be better on Saturday. I would expect us to be as well and it should be a more entertaining game even though I liked this game tonight.”
Berry ended the night with 26 saves on 27 shots to improve his record to 6-4-1 on the season.
“Confident, relaxed, doesn’t get rattled,” Granato said. “It settles our team down. He was outstanding again, certainly the number one star in the game today.”