The Big Ten’s debut in the hockey world ended with style.
Wisconsin’s Mark Zengerle ended the inaugural conference tournament with a goal eight minutes into overtime for a 5-4 victory over Ohio State on Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center.
The Badgers scored two goals in 18 seconds late in the third period to force overtime.
“It’s still a little bit of a blur, to be honest with you. Yeah, the puck was kind of hopping around. People were whacking at it in the front in the slot. I made my way around it, got a little bit of wood on it,” Zengerle said.
“It feels great. We came into this tournament, we knew we were going to play next weekend [in the NCAA tournament] no matter what. That’s not the attitude we had, but the attitude we came in with, we wanted to win. It was important for us to get this Big Ten championship. As you saw, we had no quit in our game. Our attitude, it reflected out there.”
The game-winning goal was scored as the puck lingered in front of the Buckeyes’ goal untouched until Zengerle put it away.
Wisconsin had several quality scoring chances in the opening minutes of overtime, including Morgan Zulinick hitting the post. The winning goal was scored as the puck lingered in front of the Buckeyes’ goal untouched until Zengerle put it away. He also had two assists in the game and was named the tournament’s outstanding player.
Four players finished with multiple points for the Badgers (24-10-2), led by a combined eight points by their top line of Zengerle, Nic Kerdiles (three assists) and Tyler Barnes (one goal, one assist). Morgan Zulinick scored a goal and assisted on one. Joel Rumpel had 28 saves.
Ohio State (18-14-5) needed to win to make the NCAA tournament, and the Buckeyes led by two goals with less than seven minutes to play in the third period. Tanner Fritz’s breakaway goal gave the Buckeyes a 4-2 lead at the time.
Wisconsin’s Jefferson Dahl cut the lead back to one 20 seconds later on a rebound in front of the net. Tyler Barnes tied the score before Ohio State could gather itself. The Buckeyes called timeout to slow down the game, but Wisconsin had already taken control.
Nick Oddo had a goal and two assists, and Ryan Dzingel and Clark Cristofoli both contributed a goal and assist for Ohio State. Christian Frey had 31 saves.
Buckeyes coach Steve Rohlik was a fan of the inaugural conference tournament format involving all six teams, single-elimination, over the course of one weekend. It arguably favored a team with a high-powered offense that can be streaky.
However, the Badgers’ rally left them stunned and out of the NCAA tournament.
“Well, it’s that time of year where one team moves on, one team goes home. Obviously, unfortunately for us, they got the last shot and scored the big goal there,” Rohlik said. “I’m really proud of our guys in the locker room. They emptied the tanks this weekend. They gave it all they had. That’s all I ask. It’s a big, big step for our program.”