Bouncing back from a loss with a statement win has become a trend for the Wisconsin men’s hockey team this year, and fans Friday afternoon at the Joe Louis Arena saw this trend continue. The Badgers took on the Ohio State Buckeyes, and prevailed with a final score of 3-1 to advance to the Big Ten Tournament Championship.
The scoring was started, as it has been many times this season, by Captain Luke Kunin about 17 minutes into the first period. When asked about Kunin, coach Tony Granato put it simply, by stating that “he is a warrior.”
Thanks to the stellar goaltending of freshman Jack Berry, the Badgers were able to stay in the game despite surrendering a goal late in the second period. Sophomore Will Johnson would later say that, after the injury to Matt Jurusik in November, the entire team “realized he was an amazing goalie, and he’s has been stepping it up ever since.”
With the score even heading into the last frame, the Badgers were once again looking for a sparkplug to ignite the young team. The answer to whom that sparkplug may be came quickly, as Will Johnson put one past the Ohio State goaltender just 1:30 into the period.
Ohio State continued a relentless attack towards Berry, but the young, talented goaltender remained strong in the face of peril. He would finish with 23 saves on 24 shots in the victory.
This game was a battle from start to finish, which was expected from both sides after the somewhat lackluster season-ending series at the Kohl Center just seven days ago. “I think today’s game is what you want to see in college hockey,” said Granato.
The Badgers are halfway to the goal that they came into Detroit with, which was to win the Big Ten Championship. Tonight, the team will play their final conference game against Penn State, who are currently ranked No. 15 the nation. Although the championship game will be a fierce test of the young group, they have proven their ability to beat the Nittany Lions in the past, having beaten the team in the regular season once.
Wisconsin-Penn State can be seen on BTN at 7 p.m. CT.