No. 16 Wisconsin might be Ohio State’s biggest competition for an at large NCAA tournament spot. If Friday night was any indication, No. 15 Ohio State has the upper hand in that race.
The No. 15 Buckeyes blew by the No. 16 Badgers by a score of 5-1 in Madison. The Bucks are coming off a split with Michigan State that hurt their at large chances, but a multiple goal win over your chief competition for one of the last at large spots in the tournament sure helps some of those wounds heal.
The Badgers beat OSU 3-1 in Columbus and 3-2 in overtime in Madison Square Garden back in January to give them the season series lead but Ohio State came up with the key win on Friday night when they needed it most and gained a little momentum heading into the conference tournament next week in Detroit.
OSU came out flying in this one and didn’t look back, scoring twice in the first to go into intermission up 2-0. Drew Brevig started out the scoring with just his second of the year at 8:54 of the first. It came unassisted on a redirected shot from the point. David Gust would double the lead with his 16th of the year at 11:31, from Brevig and Sasha Larocque.
In the second, Wisconsin would finally score one. But Ohio State did them one better and scored twice. Dakota Joshua scored his 11th of the year at 7:04 of the second. Gust had the lone assist. Matt Ustaski’s fifth of the year cut the OSU lead to 3-1, but the Buckeyes gained their three goal cushion back just under five minutes later as Miguel Fidler scored his fourth of the year from Mason Jobst at 14:22. It was Jobst’s 32nd assist of the year.
Jobst added an insurance goal in the third on the powerplay to fully make sure Wisconsin was dead and buried. His 17th came from Matthew Weis and gave Jobst his second point on the night. He’s up to 49 on the season. R.J. Umberger was the last Ohio State skater to have more, with 53 way back in 2003.
Ohio State came into the game the nation’s leader in powerplay percentage at 31.9%, but only went 1-for-5 in this one, with Jobst’s late insurance goal being the lone marker. The penalty kill killed off five of six Wisconsin opportunities.
Matt Tomkins got the start in goal and continued to make his case to start in the Big Ten Tournament next week as he stopped all but one shot even as Ohio State was outshot 29-18 on the night. That’s about as much as you can ask for from your goalie and with Ohio State’s high scoring offense, they’ll win pretty much any game their goalie plays like that.
You’d still like OSU to attack at even strength more even up four goals, as their goaltending has been anything but consistent this season, but it’s hard to argue when your team wins 5-1. There could be a bigger danger of a team coming back when it’s Minnesota you’re facing instead of Wisconsin, but you can’t argue with the results in this one.
The Buckeyes will take a result like this any night they can get it and they’ll look to double the pleasure in a rematch with Wisconsin on Saturday night in Madison at 8pm.