Ladies and gentlemen, your hockey Bucks are heading to the championship of the inaugural Big Ten men's hockey tournament. Fourth seeded Ohio State knocked off regular season champion Minnesota in tonight’s semifinal match up. The final score was 3-1.
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The Buckeyes played as well in the victory as they have all season, skating hard from the opening faceoff to the final horn. Freshman Nick Schilkey scored his second goal against Minnesota this season, finishing a pretty play with a tip-in tally to hand Ohio State a 1-0 lead with 4:40 remaining in the first period.
The goal proved to be a nice answer to Minnesota's opening assault that dictated the pace of the game in the first 10 minutes and the Buckeyes took a 1-0 lead to the first intermission.
Minnesota senior captain Kyle Rau knotted the game 4:47 into the second period with a nifty redirection into the back of the net. Both team had good second period chances, particularly on the power play, but they would head to the second intermission tied at one.
Halfway through the third, senior and leading scorer Ryan Dzingel stepped up for the Buckeyes, floating a shot from the point through traffic and Gopher goalie Adam Wilcox to give Ohio State a 2-1 lead. The tally, which came 9:08 into the third, was Dzingel doing what he'd done all season for the Buckeyes.
“I think I just closed my eyes, tried to shoot as hard as I could,” Dzingel said of the shot.
Minnesota put an extra attacker on the ice in the dying seconds of the game, but couldn’t get the equalizer. Buckeye sophomore Anthony Greco, who along with linemates Tanner Fritz and Max Cormick had played a superb game, sealed the win with an empty net goal at 19:33.
Schilkey, Dzingel and Greco lit the lamp for Ohio State, but freshman goalie Christian Frey was the star of the game, making 30 saves on the night to turn in his second one-goal game of the tourney in as many nights.
First-year Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik, a native of St. Paul, host of the B1G Tournament, was all about his team following the win, “I just couldn't be prouder of a group of guys that dug in tonight and did what we did to win the games.”
Ohio State faces second seed Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game Saturday night. The Buckeyes are 2-2 against the Badgers this season, splitting the series in Madison, as well as the series in Columbus last month.
Saturday's championship game will be broadcast by BTN at 8 p.m. It will also be available online via BTN2Go and on the radio at 1460 AM in Columbus.