The Buckeyes already had the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament locked up following last weekend; and likely secured an NCAA tournament bid as well. And they still went out and spanked Wisconsin back-to-back, 6-2 on Friday and 4-0 on Saturday.
Wisconsin took a 2-1 lead into the third period on Friday, but ended up losing by four. On Saturday, the Badgers didn’t want that to happen again, so they decided to just never score at all; Tommy Nappier shut them out.
With the sweep, Ohio State finished 21-8-5 overall and 14-8-2 in conference. They topped all teams who were in the Big Ten in 2016-17. Unfortunately, Notre Dame joined this year and they finished eight points ahead of the Buckeyes in conference.
Finishing No. 2 isn’t exactly horrible, though, and the Buckeyes will host Michigan State in a best-of-three series this coming weekend in Columbus. If Ohio State wins, they would face the second lowest advancing team, as Notre Dame has the number one seed and a bye. The Irish will face the lowest ranking advancing seed.
Notre Dame won three out of four from the Buckeyes this season, so taking the conference crown from them won’t be easy, but all that the Buckeyes can do for now is take care of business against MSU; whom they beat three out of four times this season. They also avoid Notre Dame until the championship, so that helps too.
Anyway, onto this weekend’s games. On Friday, Ohio State came out and promptly got blitzed in the first period, getting outshot 15-6 with Wisconsin taking a 1-0 lead in the first on a Linus Weissbach goal. If that’s not the most Wisconsin name ever, I don’t want to hear what is.
The second would be a much more even affair, with OSU outshooting UW 12-11; both teams notched a single goal. Ohio State would tie it up on a Luke Stork cross ice pass that got past UW goalie Kyle Hayton and gave Dakota Joshua a wide open net for his twelfth of the year.
Wisconsin would tie it up at 16:26 of the second, however, Matthew Freytag put the Badgers up 2-1 heading into the second intermission.
I think anyone associated with UW would agree that the third period went... poorly.
Ohio State took 16 shots and five of them found the back of the net. Tanner Laczynski tied it up at two apiece on the powerplay with his 13th of the year at 1:41. Next, Dakota Joshua gave Ohio State their first lead of the night with his 13th at 2:22. Then, Christian Lampasso scored his seventh at 10:26 to double Ohio State’s lead and make it 4-2. Laczynski scored again at 15:51 and his fourteenth made it 5-2. And finally, Brendon Kearney added salt in the wound and scored his fourth at 17:07 to make it 6-2, where the scoreboard would finally stand at the end of regulation.
Woof. Sean Romeo stopped all 12 UW shots in the period and Kyle Hayton saved 11 out of 16. That’s a .688 save percentage in the period. Up that by 200 points and you’re still having a poor game.
So Ohio State exerted their will in the third and blew out Wisconsin in the end. But Wisconsin received votes in the USCHO poll. They can’t be too bad. This wouldn’t happen again... right?
Wisconsin made sure that it wouldn’t happen again, by not gaining a lead, or even scoring a goal, in Saturday night’s matchup. OSU even played their backup goalie, Tommy Nappier. Unfortunately for the Badgers, Nappier’s save percentage is now .956 on the year after this game. Sean Romeo has surpassed any reasonable expectation for him this season and Nappier’s save percentage is 28 points higher.
The first period actually ended up scoreless in Saturday’s matchup, with Wisconsin outshooting the Buckeyes 11-7. Then things started to go poorly again for the team from Madison.
Ohio State outshot them 13-8 in the second with Mason Jobst scoring his 15th of the year off of a pass from Kearney at 6:43 of the second. It would turn out to be the game winner.
Then the Buckeyes got that classic, and totally normal, 3-on-1 shorthanded opportunity after too many UW defenders got caught too deep in the offensive zone. John Wiitala passed to Gordi Myer who passed back to Wiitala who then passed to Jobst and he put in his second of the night.
From thereon, it would be all about the senior walk-on who has come back this season to play a key bottom-six role for the Buckeyes.
Christian Lampasso would score twice on Senior Night, first on a partial breakaway, sprung on a pass by Kearney.
His eighth of the season cemented a three-goal second period for the Buckeyes. But, he wasn’t done yet.
He scored his ninth of the year on an empty net. As he put it toward the net, a UW player threw his stick at the puck to block it. The referees awarded the goal on the illegal play and OSU took a 4-0 lead.
UW wouldn’t be able to get a single one of their 31 shots past Nappier, and Ohio State clinched the season-ending sweep of the Badgers on Senior Night with the 4-0 victory.
So, onto host Michigan State went the Buckeyes. They sit at No. 6 in the nation with postseason NCAA tournament seeding on the line. A Big Ten championship is a possibility. But first, they have to win a best-of-three against a team that they should beat. Let’s see if they can starting this Friday, March 2 in Columbus.