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Men’s hockey: No. 8 Buckeyes drop series opener at home to Wisconsin, 3-1

OSU then-junior goalkeeper Christian Frey (30) prepares to save a shot during a game against Wisconsin on Jan. 8, 2016. Credit: Lantern File Photo

Three goals on the road sealed the deal for the Badgers.

In a battle of two of the nation’s top-10 offenses, the No. 8 Ohio State men’s hockey team (12-5-6, 3-3-1-1) fell to the visiting Wisconsin Badgers, 3-1 on Thursday night at the Schottenstein Center. The loss drops the Scarlet and Gray to 4-4-2 overall and 1-2-0 in the Big Ten at home this season.

Buckeyes’ junior forward Matt Weis found the back of the net for OSU early in the second period, but first-period goals from Wisconsin sophomore forwards Luke Kunin and Matthew Freytag, and a late empty-netter from junior forward Ryan Wagner were enough to give the visitors three Big Ten points heading into Saturday’s series finale at Madison Square Garden.

“First and foremost, you’ve got to give them credit,” Rohlik said. “They came in, and played a much better first 20 minutes than us, that’s for sure.”

The Badgers capitalized on an early OSU powerplay turnover, and opened the game’s scoring when captain and leading scorer Kunin pushed a centered pass past Christian Frey to give the Badgers the 1-0 lead on the shorthanded goal.

Less than six minutes later, Freytag doubled the Badger lead on another Scarlet and Gray turnover with his second goal of the season. And as the first 20 minutes came to a close, OSU found themselves in a 2-0 hole.

“I think we came out a little slow, and I think that’s what hurt us in the end,” senior forward and newly-appointed assistant captain David Gust said. “We didn’t play a full 60 minutes, and being down two goals, especially with a short-handed one, kind of hurt us.”

Despite the deficit, the Buckeyes controlled the offensive tempo after the first intermission, peppering Wisconsin freshman goalie Jack Berry with a handful of opportunities. With 15:32 left in the period, OSU found a breakthrough.

Weis got his team on the board with his seventh goal of the season — second in two games — off the faceoff win and assist from sophomore forward Mason Jobst. Jobst’s helper marked his ninth straight game with a point, and 29th overall on the year.

The Buckeyes continued to dominate puck possession and shots on goal in the second period with a 13-6 advantage. But entering the final frame, OSU still trailed, 2-1.

The Scarlet and Gray emerged from the locker room with an eye for the goal, and continued to create havoc for Berry between the pipes. However, after being outshot in the third and Wisconsin’s Wagner adding insurance with under 10 seconds left, the Buckeyes found themselves on the wrong side of a 3-1 scoreline as the final horn sounded.

Both Ohio State and Wisconsin will now travel to New York City for Saturday’s series finale from Madison Square Garden as a part of Big Ten Super Saturday. With that, Gust said that despite the venue, the Buckeyes are focused on claiming three points in the Big Ten standings.

“[It’s] just like any other game, even though it’s a cool environment,” Gust said. “But we’ve got to focus on the main picture, and that’s a win.”

Puck drop from the Big Apple is set for 7 p.m

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