Ohio State hockey is officially on a roll. After winning the Florida College Hockey Classic during the holidays with wins over No. 4 Boston College and No. 9 Cornell, the Buckeyes continued their hot streak with a 2-0 shutout victory over Wisconsin in Madison.
This wasn't anything resembling the absolute annihilation of No. 9 Cornell that won Ohio State the Florida College Hockey Classic on December 29, but it was a solid if unspectacular effort to systematically take out an inferior team. Wisconsin came in at only 4-8-5 on the season overall, but had a conference win, something Ohio State didn't have. Ohio State had the better goal differential at even despite the 6-11 record, with Wisconsin -9, but the Buckeyes were still in the conference basement after losing twice to Minnesota in overtime in both of their only conference games this season.
But 2016 is a new year, and following the tournament in Florida, it really looked like the Buckeyes were heavy favorites here to take out the Badgers. However, it would take awhile for Ohio State to put Wisconsin away for good.
The first period was a scoreless frame, with Wisconsin disconcertingly outshooting the Bucks 10-8. Cameron Hughes of Wisconsin received a boarding call, giving OSU a powerplay, in the first but nothing came of it on the scoreboard.
The second period would be more of the same as, again, neither team could put on in the net. Matt Ustaski's checking from behind call gave OSU a powerplay, but Mason Jobst's slashing call 65 seconds into the powerplay took out the last half of OSU's man advantage. Shots were seven apiece in the period, with, again, no team putting one in.
Ohio State finally took over and put away the Badgers in the third period. OSU was outshot 9-6 in the period, but got two goals to take a game they played far from spectacularly in. The eventual game winner was set up by John Wiitala and Jobst, as the former found David Gust in the slot for his fourth of the season at 8:53 of the third. Just over seven minutes later, Tyler Lundey continued his hot streak with his fourth of the year to give the Bucks some insurance. Sasha Larocque and Drew Brevig registered assists on that tally.
Wisconsin had a powerplay in the third after Jobst received his second penalty of the night. This one was for boarding at 16:29, but OSU killed it off and survived the final 1:20 of the period with Wisconsin's empty net giving them another man advantage to preserve the 2-0 victory.
Christian Frey was once again in net and registered his second consecutive shutout with the victory. After shutting out Cornell a week and a half ago, Frey's shutout streak is now extended to a ridiculous 177:31. He hadn't recorded a single shutout in his two plus year college career until that Cornell game and now has a mind blowing streak going. College hockey is funny.
But anyway, the Bucks won their third straight and first conference game of the season despite generally not playing superbly after their layoff. They were outshot but overpowered a team they're better than with their biggest strength right now: goaltending. And when Frey plays like this, it's really hard to beat Ohio State no matter who you are.
The Buckeyes will face Wisconsin once again in Madison on Saturday night at 8pm and will look to score a sweep of the Badgers and their second straight conference win.