#2 Wisconsin takes on #4 Ohio State Saturday night to see who will hoist the B1G hockey tournament trophy for the very first time.
Friday afternoon, Wisconsin showed cool composure in downing the upstart Nittany Lions of PSU 2-1.
The Badgers were down 1-0 at the beginning of the second period, but Michael Mersch answered right back to tie it up. It was Mersch again (he was a Nittany Lion killer often this season) at the end of the second to put the Badgers up 2-1, a lead they would never relinquish. PSU never quit, though, and gave it their all in the third, but the Badgers defense and the great play of Rumple in net shut PSU down with calm confidence. The most amazing thing was, when PSU wanted to pull goalie Skoff for the extra attacker at about the 2:00 minute left mark, Wisconsin masterfully pinned PSU in their own zone and never let that happen, it was truly impressive.
Last night, the Gophers squared off against the Buckeyes of Ohio State in the other semi final.
OSU opened the scoring first with a power play goal by Nick Schilkey just over 5 minutes into the first period. The Gophers tied it up with a power play goal of their own by Kyle Rau with just under 5 minutes left in the middle frame. This set up a big third period for both teams. The Gophers came out strong, but Christian Frey came up stronger in net time and time again. In the middle of the period, OSU's Mr Everything, Ryan Dzingel, who had been pretty quiet up to that point, beat Wilcox with a snipe from beyond the hash-marks after a nice little delay move. OSU and Frey thwarted any attempts by the Gophers the rest of the way, and Anthony Greco scored an empty net goal to seal the Victory for the Buckeyes.
What's at stake?
Obviously for both teams, making history by winning the first ever B1G hockey conference tournament championship.
For Wisconsin, win or lose they are going to the NCAA tournament, but winning the conference would hold their Pairwise rankings and would give them a favorable match-up in the NCAA's.
For Ohio State, a win would give them a birth in the NCAA's by virtue of an auto-bid for winning their conference tournament, and would be a huge defining moment in first year coach Steve Rohlik's tenure.
Note : It was really fun covering the B1G hockey conference in this first season of existence. Thanks to Graham and Jesse for letting me, Jesse for all his great help, and Candy Stripes For Breakfast for a few technical pointers. And thanks to everyone who participated.
[Ed Note: Bigger props to Big Maple for volunteering and running with this. Hope it's just the start of hockey on OTE for all you B1G fans. We should do a little more during the Frozen Four too. Heck, maybe I'll even write this time. - JC]
One more game, join us here Saturday night, 7:00pm ct for the final game. TV : BTN