The Wisconsin Badgers Hockey Team came back from a late 4-2 deficit to defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes 5-4 in overtime, claiming the inaugural Big Ten Tournament Championship in St. Paul, MN.
It was a good half an hour for Wisconsin Athletics, the Badgers basketball team secured a trip to the Sweet 16 with a huge comeback against the Oregon Ducks, moments prior to Wisconsin’s hockey team making history.
Comebacks all around for Bucky tonight! Cue the celebration in Madtown. Be safe, kiddos.
Just like the Badgers’ basketball game, the Big Ten Championship Game didn’t start great on the ice, either. At the 15:09 mark of the first period, Ohio State’s Ryan Dzingel beat goaltender Joel Rumpel on a breakaway.
But things got worse. About four minutes later, Nick Oddo gave Ohio State the 2-0 lead, while falling to the ice after stuffing home a rebound.
It seemed as though Wisconsin was headed to the first intermission scoreless, with its tail between its legs. But Jake McCabe gave Bucky life, with only 22 seconds left in the period, on a well-placed wrist shot. The assist came from a team leader, and senior, Mark Zengerle.
The Badgers then tied the game in the second period, on an put back power play goal by Morgan Zulinick with 8:36 left.
Moments later, Clark Cristofoli took back the lead for Ohio State, shooting while streaking down the middle of the ice.
With 6:52 left, OSU’s Tanner Fritz scored from a distance, threatening to kill the Badgers’ championship dreams. Wisconsin’s goalie, Rumpel, found himself a little off center and didn’t make the, relatively, easy save. Brutal.
Wisconsin could have laid down, they were down by two goals with less than seven minutes to play. But the Badgers would pick Rumpel up. Just like the basketball team, they didn’t give up when they seemed to have dug themselves in too big of a hole to climb out of.
Bucky was resilient tonight.
Wisconsin’s Jefferson Dahl and Tyler Barnes would score back-to-back goals for the Badgers; amazingly tying the game at four. No one saw such a swift and furious comeback. Wisconsin seemed dead in the water — or, on the ice, rather. One of the wildest stretches in Wisconsin hockey history. If you would have blinked, you would have missed the improbable comeback.
4-4 All. Next stop…Overtime. Wow.
Next goal would win it. The pressure was on. As overtime unfolded, the tension built with each second. That is, until Zengerle scored, arguably, the biggest goal of his illustrious career. There was a scrum in front of the Buckeyes’ net and Zengerle found the puck and sent it into the cage with 12:12 left to play in the overtime period. The team’s leading scorer did what he did best when they needed him the most.
5-4 Badgers. Game Over.
Zengerle sprinted on his skates and then slid on his knees across mid-ice as the crowd went nuts, celebrating the first ever Big Ten Conference Tournament Championship. There will be others to win this Tournament, but only one to win the first. Just like the Wisconsin Badgers football team in 2011, who won the inaugural Big Ten Conference Championship Game for football — the hockey team has done the same. What a tradition that has become in Madison.
The team mobbed each other and created a dog pile near the boards, merely inches from the exuberant crowd. The most satisfying goal, in terms of Big Ten hockey history, was scored tonight. Thankfully, the Badgers were the one to put it in the net and celebrate it.
There were thousands of Badgers fans in St. Paul rooting for Wisconsin, watching it win the Big Ten Tournament. Also, there were thousands of Badgers fans flipping between the channels of the basketball game and the hockey game. Both amazing games. Both amazing comebacks. Both amazing wins. This night truly belongs to Bucky.
Wisconsin may be a 1-seed in college hockey’s NCAA tournament, where they hope to make it to another Frozen Four, and another championship game. Is this the year that the Badgers win their seventh National Championship in school history? We’ll know soon enough but until then, lets continue to enjoy the ride.
On Wisconsin. On the ice, on the court. Hell yes, what a night to remember!
Check back with Badger of Honor for more information on the Badgers hockey team’s NCAA Tournament run.
Thanks to the [BigTenNetwork.com] for the videos.