I hate having to bring up attendance, but it was awful for both games. Somewhere between 300-500 people showed up for the first game and maybe 500-1000 for the second. Hopefully, tomorrow's games are better attended.
(6) Wisconsin Badgers @ (3) Penn State Nittany Lions
Wisconsin got off to a good start Thursday afternoon, controlling the first 5 minutes of play. The Badgers had a few good chances off of Penn State icings but couldn't capitalize. Penn State nearly scored on a nice play to get around the Badgers' Matt Jurusik. Jurusik was beat, but the shot went wide across the open net and into the boards. Penn State started to establish more of an attack at the midway point of the period. Penn State jumped on the board first with a goal from Eric Scheid. Scheid got behind the Badger defense and scored on the breakaway. Luke Juha and Kevin Kerr had the assists. Connor Varley extended Penn State's lead with a blast from the left point that deflected off a Badger. Eric Scheid and David Goodwin recorded the assists. Penn State took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
Wisconsin began the second down 2, but with 1:53 in pp time after Penn State was caught with too many men on the ice but couldn't capitalize. nearly 4 minutes into the second, the Badgers had a pseudo 3 on 2 leading to a tap in goal for Luke Kunin. Cameron Hughes sent a beauty of a pass from the boards and Kunin tapped it home. Corbin McGuire got the secondary assist, his first assist of the year. The Badgers immediately went on the PP but couldn't tie the game and were lucky Penn State skied a shorthanded attempt. Penn State earned its first power play a little later but could capitalize on extended zone time. The Nittany Lion would extend their lead on a shot from Ricky DeRosa. The went off Tim Davison's leg and over Jurusik's shoulder. It was the second goal for Penn State that deflected off a Badger. Assists to Luke Juha and Tommy Olczyk. A little over a minute later, Tommy Olczyk beat Jurusik on a breakaway to make it 4-1. Ricky DeRosa had the only assist. Wisconsin failed to score on a late powerplay and nearly wen down 5-1 in the final seconds of the seconds but Matt Jurusik threw the glove out to catch a backdoor tip.
Wisconsin cut the lead to 2 three and half minutes into the third as Grant Besse knocked Eddie Wittchow's rebound past McAdam. Wisconsin failed to convert on another power play but controlled much of the play over the middle ten minutes. Wisconsin pulled Matt Jurusik with 2:40 to go in the period. Grant Besse prevented an open net goal with a great effort then rang one off the cross bar the other way with 88 seconds left in the period. It was just that kind of period for the Badgers who had plent of chances but couldn't make enough of them count. Eric Scheid iced the game with an empty net goal near the end of the game.
Wisconsin out shot Penn State 37-29 but lost 5-2 in a game that got away in the second. The Badgers would control stretches but not capitalize and then give up a goal the other way. Penn State scored two goals off of Badger skaters to open up two two goal leads. If those deflect a different way, this game probably goes to OT. Penn State's win was never really in doubt, but they have to be feeling fortunate to come away with the win. The Nittany Lions will take on Michigan tomorrow at 5 et/4 ct on BTN and BTN2Go. The Badgers' Season and likely head coach Mike Eaves' tenure are over. In other news, I guessed the score for this game!
(5) Michigan State Spartans @ (4) Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State got a perfect start, scoring 38 seconds into the game. Lakeville, MN native, John Wiitala, scored 38 seconds into the game on a nice wraparound. Mason Jobst and David Gust picked up the assists. The teams then started trading chances with both goalies making big saves and getting timely D clears on loose pucks. MSU had the first powerplay but could not capitalize. OSU continued to push the play and was rewarded with 1:08 left in the first. Josh Healey made his own space on the blue line and ripped a slap shot. Hildebrand spit out a rebound that was hammered home by Tommy Parran. Kevin Miller get the secondary assist. The period ended with OSU up 2-0, fitting as the Buckeyes out shot the Spartans 19-4. Hildebrand played really well in the first but his D was nowhere to be found.
MSU began to find their legs in the second, drawing an early power play, the Spartans converted on a nice shot from Joe Cox, Travis Walsh and Matt DeBlouw assisted. OSU took a holding penalty shortly later and Matt DeBlouw made them pay. Travis Walsh and William Haag got the helpers on the tying goal. On the ensuing face off, Sasha LaRocque was ejected for checking from behind. He got 5 and a game misconduct, putting a red-hot MSU pp back on the ice for five minutes. Christian Frey made a couple huge saves in the first half of the kill to keep it tied. It didn't stay tied for long as Michael Ferrantino tipped a goal past Frey with 2 minutes left on the major penalty. OSU was dominating play at 5 on 5 but 3 consecutive power play goals over a 3 minute stretch vaulted MSU into the lead. MSU took a hooking penalty in the final minute of the period, giving OSU 1:24 of pp time to start the third.
OSU struggled to get anything gong on the power play to start the period, but continued to get good even strength chances. OSU found paydirt at 3:17 when a blocked Drew Brevig shot found Matthew Weis for a one-timer. Josh Healey got the other assist on the tying goal. The teams traded chances down the stretch with MSU failing to convert on a powerplay. Jake Hildbrand and Christian Frey both made multiple desperation saves to preserve a 3-3 tie through the end of the third.
The teams traded chances throughout the first 5 minutes of OT. MSU was more aggressive pinching their D than all of regulation, trying to end it early. MSU whiffed on a tap in goal to end the game early in the OT. That miss would come back to bite them when Craig Dalrymple prevented a clear by throwing a shot on net from the blue line. Hildebrand saved the dump, but kicked a rebound right to Mason Jobst who one-timed the winner past Hildebrand for the win.
Ohio State won this game at even strength 4-0. Up until the end of regulation and overtime, MSU couldn't get much of anything going. If it wasn't for three penalties in a 4 minute stretch leading to three MSU power play goals, Ohio State would have ran away with this one. Sasha Larocque's major penalty may not have cost OSU against the Spartans, but it may have a big impact on their semifinal match up with Minnesota. MSU's third goal was scored on his dangerous penalty and prevented OSU from winning in regulation. The Buckeyes had to play 13:47 longer than regulation and were skating 5 dmen instead of 6 for 45:10. We'll see if the added fatigue comes into play tomorrow evening. MSU's season has ended and it's possible that Tom Anastos' tenure is also over. Ohio State will try to extend its season tomorrow night on BTN/BTN2Go.