Another weekend series against conference foe Wisconsin, another split for the Ohio State men’s hockey team.
The No. 23 Buckeyes (15-10-3, 5-6-3) were able to extend their season-high points streak to six games with a 2-1 victory against the Badgers Friday, but saw that streak come to an end in the final game of the series Saturday, a 4-2 decision in favor of Wisconsin (17-9-2, 8-5-1).
It is the second time this season the two teams have split a weekend series, the other coming Jan. 24 and 25 in Madison, Wis.
Wisconsin started fast Saturday, notching two goals before the game’s first intermission, as redshirt-freshman forward Morgan Zulinick scored on a power play and senior forward Mark Zengerle found the net.
OSU cut into the lead in the second period on a high-glove side goal by freshman forward Nick Schilkey. Junior forward Ryan Dzingel was credited with an assist on the play, the 100th point in his career. The score remained 2-1 until early in the third period, when Zengerle found the net just more than a minute into play.
OSU junior forward Max McCormick scored less than a minute later to get the deficit back to one, but Wisconsin tallied an empty net goal with two seconds remaining to ice the game.
“The difference between last night and tonight was just reverse,” Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves said, referring to his team getting out to an early lead.
Despite the loss, OSU coach Steve Rohlik was pleased with how his team performed.
“Even though falling down by two, I just give our team credit,” Rohlik said Saturday. “We just kept battling back.”
The No. 8 Badgers had momentum coming in to Friday’s game after sweeping then-No. 1 Minnesota last weekend, but the Buckeyes put an end to it with the help of a pair of first period goals.
Sophomore forward Tyler Lundey lit the lamp just 2:08 into the game, and junior forward Darik Angeli followed suit in the period’s final minute.
Eaves attributed OSU’s early success to the final outcome of the Friday game.
“I didn’t like our start and that’s where the game was won tonight,” Eaves said after the loss Friday. “Score the first goal, and 68 percent of the time you are going to win.”
Rohlik was happy overall with the effort of his team and the opportunities they created in the victory.
“When your goalie’s playing well and you get a lead, it gives you a lot of confidence,” Rohlik said, referring to freshman goalie Christian Frey, who made 29 saves. “He has got the momentum right now and hopefully we can continue to ride it.”
After splitting the series, Rohlik said he is happy where his team is at and their ability to trudge forward.
OSU is not scheduled to play again until Feb. 28, and with a week off, the players are looking forward to resting for the season’s final stretch.
“We take this week to get better,” Schilkey said. “That’s what we’re going to do and come back stronger.”
The Buckeyes are set to take on No. 9 Michigan Feb. 28. Puck drop is slated for 6:30 p.m. in Ann Arbor, Mich.