March 21, 2014
SAINT PAUL, Minn. - The Ohio State men's hockey team will play for the inaugural Big Ten Tournament title after defeating No. 1-ranked and top seed Minnesota, 3-1, Saturday in the tournament semifinals in the Xcel Energy Center. The No. 4 seed Buckeyes will take on No. 2 seed Wisconsin at 7 p.m. CT/8 p.m. ET Saturday in a game televised by BTN with the league's automatic berth into the NCAA tournament on the line.
Ohio State (18-13-5) led 1-0 at the end of the first period on a power play goal from freshman Nick Schilkey but the Gophers (25-6-6) tied the game at 4:47 of the second with a power play goal of their own. In the third, Buckeye junior and Hobey Baker finalist Ryan Dzingel was able to get a shot through at 9:08, putting Ohio State ahead, 2-1, and sophomore Anthony Greco sealed the win with an empty-net goal in the final minute. Buckeye freshman goalie Christian Frey made 30 saves in the contest.
Ohio State converted its first power play chance of the game. Junior Max McCormick found classmate Tanner Fritz with a cross ice pass. He passed to Schilkey in the slot and he redirected the puck in at 15:20, marking his 13th goal of the season. McCormick extended his assist streak to six games, with seven helpers in the stretch. Frey stopped all 12 Gopher shots in the period, with Ohio State putting eight shots on net. Each team had one power play chance in the stanza.
The Gophers scored the only goal of the second period when Kyle Rau tallied from the far post off a pass from Taylor Cammarata at 4:47 on the power play. Ohio State was 0-for-3 on the power play in the period, including a chance that carried over from the opening 20 minutes, and Minnesota was 1-for-2. The Buckeyes outshot the Gophers, 11-10, in the period.
In the third, Buckeye sophomore Tyler Lundey won the battle along the boards and passed to Dzingel. He waited out the Minnesota defenseman and his wrist shot went off a Gopher and in for his 21st goal of the year, giving the Buckeyes a 2-1 advantage at 9:08. With time winding down, Minnesota pulled its goalie and the Buckeyes converted just three seconds later when freshman defenseman Drew Brevig passed to Greco and he was able to score from outside the zone. Frey stopped all nine Minnesota shots in the period, with Ohio State putting six on the Gopher goal. Ohio State had the only power play of the period at 5:17.
For the game, Ohio State was outshot by the Gophers, 31-25. Frey played all 60 minutes and had 30 saves, moving his record to 9-3-3 on the year, with a 2.11 goals-against average and .934 save percentage that ranks second in the NCAA. Adam Wilcox made 22 saves in 59:57 for the Gophers.
Ohio State blocked 21 shots as a team, led by junior Al McLean with eight blocked shots and Brevig with four.
Ohio State was 1-for-5 on the power play in the game, with Minnesota 1-for-3.
The win was the Buckeyes' first over a No. 1-ranked team since defeating Miami in the CCHA quarterfinals March 14, 2010.
Ohio State and Wisconsin have split the season series so far this season, with each team winning once at home and once on the road. The squads first met Jan. 24-25 in Madison, Wis., with Wisconsin capturing game one, 5-3, and the Buckeyes winning game two, 3-1. Feb. 14-15 in Columbus, Ohio State posted a 2-1 victory in the series opener and the Badgers won game two, 4-2.