MADISON, Wis. – Despite an early 1-0 lead and a 37-22 advantage in shots on goal, the Wisconsin men's hockey team couldn't convert good looks into goals and dropped its first conference game in nearly two months, falling to Ohio State, 3-1.
OSU's Nick Schilkey and Nick Oddo erased a one-goal deficit with a pair of goals in a 3:25 span during the second period to provide the Buckeyes (12-9-1, 2-5-1 B1G) all the offense they would need to take down the ninth-ranked Badgers (14-7-1, 5-3-0 B1G).
The loss was only the second home setback of the season for the Badgers, who fell to 13-2-1 at the Kohl Center. It was also the first conference loss since Nov. 30 for UW, when Wisconsin fell to Minnesota in Minneapolis.
Schilkey's goal came just 98 seconds after Mark Zengerle (Rochester, N.Y.) threaded a shot through a crowd in front of the net and past OSU goalie Christian Frey to give UW the edge with 9:57 left in the second period.
Ohio State quickly responded when Schilkey started in his own end, shook himself free with a nifty fake, then sent a backhander past Badger goalie Joel Rumpel and into the net. Oddo matched him with 4:56 left in the period, when he gathered a rebounding shot by Sam Jardine and punched it home.
The goals sent the Buckeyes into the locker room with a 2-1 edge and deflated what had been a raucous crowd just minutes before. The 15,021 fans were the most at a Kohl Center hockey game since 2010.
"I think everyone in that locker room is bummed that we didn't get the win for that crowd. And that's something we talked about. Hopefully we have another opportunity when we play Minnesota in a few weeks to do that," Zengerle said.
"That's what you want as a hockey player and that's part of the luxury of playing at Wisconsin. You get that sort of thing."
But the Badgers wouldn't go away, and maintained pressure on Frey for the rest of the night. Despite numerous chances – many of them off of rebounds – Wisconsin couldn't find the back of the net and watched its comeback hopes disappear when an Ohio State steal lead to an empty-net goal with 12 second left.
The loss overshadowed a stellar effort by the Wisconsin penalty kill, which kept the Badgers in the game by forcing the Buckeyes to go 0-for-5 on the man advantage. UW came up short on the power play as well, going scoreless in four tries.
Rumpel took the loss for only the second time this season, falling to 11-2-0 on the year. He made 19 saves on 21 shots. Frey turned away all but one of Wisconsin's 37 shots, finishing with 36 saves.
The Badgers return to the ice against Michigan at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 31. It will be the first road game for Wisconsin since Nov. 30, and will be televised live by BTN. UW's Saturday tilt, on Feb. 1, will air live on NBC Sports Network, also at 5:30 p.m.
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