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Badgers hockey blow late lead in tie with Ohio State

Wisconsin came in to its road series with Ohio State looking to snap a 10-game losing streak in Big Ten play, but it will have to wait another day. Two late Buckeyes goals, including one in the final minute of regulation meant what should’ve been a win turned in to a 4-4 tie.

However, the Badgers hockey team earned the extra point with a single goal from Matthew Freytag in the shootout.

It still was an empty feeling, as all three points were there for the taking as UW put themselves up two goals in the final period, only to see it all slip away late.

OSU’s sniper, Nick Schilkey, netted his second goal of the night with just 48 seconds left to play in regulation to tie it up at 4-4.

The story of this contest was one very familiar to this Badgers men’s hockey program though.

As has often been the case in the 2015-16 season, Wisconsin found itself playing from behind and doing so early. Ohio State took just 90 seconds to light the lamp, with Nick Schilkey putting home his 15th goal of the season and giving the hosts a quick 1-0 lead.

Just like Wisconsin’s pattern, the Badgers fought right back and Luke Kunin slotted one home with ease from the front slot at the 7:52 mark of the 1st period. His team-leading 14th goal was assisted by Will Johnson and Cameron Hughes.

In true fashion of this season, the Badgers couldn’t hold on to any momentum for long. This time the thrill of Kunin’s goal lasted just 31 seconds, as the Badger killer Tyler Lundey put OSU back in the lead at 2-1.

It marked the 7th career goal for Lundey against the Badgers and put the Buckeyes on the front foot.

However, it was Wisconsin that turned the tables on OSU as the 1st period drew to a close. With just 43 seconds remaining in the period, the Badgers stole momentum back thanks to a great goal from Seamus Malone.

Instead of a 2-1 deficit, it was 2-2 and Wisconsin with some serious momentum heading in to intermission.

That momentum carried over to the second period, as a nice job of digging out the puck in the neutral zone ended with Jarod Zirbel riffling a shot from the left face-off circle. It was saved by Frey, but Matt Ustaski was crashing the net and put home the loose puck for his second goal of the season and a 3-2 UW lead.

Wisconsin didn’t buckle with the lead for the rest of the period, including a key 4-minute power play kill thanks to two penalties on Kunin.

The two teams were even up on shots after two periods at 20-20, but it was Ohio State putting some serious pressure on Jurusik and the Badgers defense in the second period thanks to a 15-12 lead on shots on goal.

UW saved its best goal of the night for its last though, as Eddie Wittchow whipped a huge pass up ice off a face-off to a rushing Matthew Freytag. The effort paid off, as he whipped behind goal and wrapped it around for his seventh of the season and a 4-2 lead.

Following UW’s fourth of the night, it appeared UW would take the win. That all changed just four minutes later as John Wiitala put a rebound off Jurusik’s blocker past the outstretched netminder from the slot for a 4-3 scoreline.

Wisconsin tried to hold on, and did so for most of the rest of the game including a 6-man OSU squad for most of the final three minutes of regulation. It just couldn’t hold though, as Anthony Greco put a pass from behind the net right in front of Jurusik, with Schilkey one-timing it past a helpless goaltender for the tie game.

After a relatively uneventful overtime period, the two teams went to a penalty shootout. Both teams failed to find the back of the net in the first three attempts, pushing things to extra penalty shots. Following two more misses, the man behind Wisconsin’s fourth goal, Freytag, came to the rescue with the only goal of the shootout.

These two will square off in the series finale on Saturday at 6p.m. CT in Columbus, with the game not being televised. So tune in to WIBA 1310-AM with Brian Posick on the call.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com