The Badgers headed to Columbus this weekend to take on No. 8 Ohio State in an unusual Thursday game, followed by a trip to the Big Apple to complete the series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. It was a successful weekend for the Badgers as they defeated the Buckeyes twice in three days, including an overtime thriller at MSG. UW put up three goals in both games, winning 3-1 and 3-2.
Luke Kunin opened up the scoring in the first game with a shorthanded tally early in the first period. Matthew Freytag added to the Badger lead and provided the game winning goal nearly midway through the first period.
Matthew Weis scored for the Buckeyes in the second, but Ryan Wagner added the insurance goal late in the third period to seal the Badger victory.
On Saturday at MSG the Badgers started off strong again. Aidan Cavallini scored the game’s first goal late in the first period. The Badgers struck again in the third when Matthew Freytag scored what would seem to be just an insurance goal. Will Johnson got his second assist on the tally. That goal, however was not enough as the Buckeyes gave UW a scare, scoring twice in the final two minutes of the game.
The Badgers were able to weather the storm, though, as Cameron Hughes played the role of overtime hero for UW, sealing the Badgers’ third consecutive victory against top-10 teams.
Here are three takeaways after taking two games in two states:
1. Goaltending Tandem
After early season concerns with Wisconsin goaltending, this weekend has shown a glimmer of hope for the Badgers in net. Both Jack Berry and Matt Jurusik played this weekend, allowing a total of three goals on a combined 53 shots. Each goalie faced three Buckeye power plays, Jurusik allowing the lone goal against a dangerous Ohio State team with the man advantage.
Each goalie made 12 saves in the second period to hold back an Ohio State surge. Jack Berry closed his game out keeping the Buckeyes off the board in the third. Jurusik, on the other hand, allowed a pair of goals in the last two minutes of his game before not facing a shot in overtime as Cameron Hughes sealed the victory for the Badgers.
Despite Jurusik’s late scare, both goalies looked sharp between the pipes.
2. Penalty Margin and Special Teams
The Badgers didn’t take a lot of penalties, but they drew ever fewer. Ohio State had six power plays to Wisconsin’s three. Furthermore, the Badgers didn’t have a single opportunity with the man advantage in the first game of the series.
On the bright side, the Badger penalty killers came to play on both nights. Luke Kunin opened the series’ scoring on a shorthanded tally just 3:24 into the first game. Wisconsin’s penalty kill then held off the Buckeyes on their three attempts, allowing only three total shots on goal and none after the first power play.
In the game in New York, there was a bit of a late scare when the Badgers allowed a quick power play goal late in the third period after being solid all night on the power play. The Buckeyes were able to force overtime, but the Wisconsin defense held strong in overtime not allowing a shot.
The power play only mustered five shots on goal in 8:41 of power play time. There is certainly room for improvement on the power play.
3. Team Leaders Leading by Example
An interesting takeaway from this series is the strong work of upper classmen and team leaders. Junior defenseman Jake Linhart recorded an assist in each game, to reach a career-high 11 assists on the season.
Sophomore Captain Luke Kunin had a goal and an assist in the first game to reach 15 goals and nine assists on the year, on pace to break both marks from last season.
Junior Alternate Captain Cameron Hughes was the Badgers’ best player this weekend recording two assists and scoring the overtime game winner at MSG, a memory to cherish.
These three leaders as well as others on the team look to build on their three game win streak (all against top-10 opponents) as they head to East Lansing to take on the Spartans next weekend.
1. Cameron Hughes (Game winning goal in OT, 2A)
2. Matthew Freytag (2G, game-winning goal)
3. Luke Kunin (G, A)