If you allow what ultimately amounts to the game winning goal within the first ten minutes of a hockey game, your offense probably didn’t play to its fullest potential.
That’s exactly what happened on Thursday night in Columbus as Wisconsin scored twice within the first ten minutes of the game and held off No. 8 Ohio State for the 3-1 victory, with the third goal coming via empty net.
Nick Schilkey was out yet again for the Buckeyes and the team is clearly missing their captain and consensus best player on offense. The Bucks only outshot an inferior Wisconsin team by two shots despite falling behind early and Wisconsin committing six penalties to Ohio State’s three. That’s just not good enough to beat a decent team, even at home.
Tanner Laczynski returned for Ohio State after missing the games versus Penn State last weekend, but was largely a nonfactor as he only registered two shots on goal and was a -1.
Ohio State registered only seven shots on goal in the first period, with Wisconsin taking over from the get go despite Patrick Sexton going to the box for UW just 1:25 into the game. WIth just one second left on that powerplay, Luke Kunin put one home shorthanded for UW, for his 15th of the season and gave Wisconsin a lead they would never surrender.
Matthew Freytag then scored for UW at 8:46 to make it 2-0 and suddenly, before they knew what hit them, Ohio State was down multiple goals without their best offensive player. Not an ideal situation! Christian Frey allows two goals on 11 shots in that first period, but wouldn’t surrender another one on the Badgers 13 shots in the second and third combined to keep OSU in it.
In the second, OSU did finally get on the board with a tally from Matthew Weis, his seventh of the season. Mason Jobst had the only assist, his 19th of the year, on the goal at 4:28. That’d be the only score in the period despite Ohio State clearly upping their game and putting 13 shots on goal in the period to Wisconsin's six.
But that would be all that the Buckeyes would get. They weren't able to capitalize on either of their two powerplays later in the second and were held to just that single goal.
Frey held strong and kept Ohio State within that one goal, but nobody would put one home. Frey was finally pulled for the extra attacker with just over a minute to go, but it would backfire on Ohio State as Ryan Wagner scored into the empty net to clinch the 3-1 victory for Wisconsin.
OSU put up only seven shots on goal in the third period and didn’t gain a single powerplay despite Wisconsin being called for six penalties in the first two periods. The period was played at even strength throughout until Frey was pulled but Ohio State, without Schilkey, couldn’t put enough pressure on Wisconsin goalie Jack Berry and were stuck with just one goal.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday...at Madison Square Garden at 7pm. What a confusing, strange world we live in.