Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Badgers Capture Inaugural Tournament Title

Wisconsin was the prediction at the beginning of the year to win the Big Ten Championship Tournament.

Though they wavered at the beginning of the season, for the second straight year the Badgers hoisted a conference tournament championship trophy around the Xcel Energy Arena.

Ohio State didn't make it easy for them. The Buckeyes had pushed past Michigan State in a 2-1 overtime victory and out-muscled top-seed Minnesota to earn their spot in Saturday's championship bout. Wisconsin earned a bye from the first round and topped Penn State for a shot at the title.

It was anyone's game.

Like Friday's game, Ohio State began the game in control. They jumped out to a 2-1 lead behind goals from leading scorer and Hobey Baker finalist Ryan Dzingel and Nick Oddo. The Buckeyes held on for a 3-2 lead going into the final frame.

But Wisconsin pushed overtime, netting two goals to Ohio State's one late in the third period. It set up the extra frame with momentum in Wisconsin's direction.

Badgers top forward Mark Zengerle was the man to step up to the challenge.

"It's huge. It feels great," said Zengerle,  who was awarded the tournament's MVP. "We came into this tournament, we knew we were going to play next weekend no matter what. That's not the attitude we had, but the attitude we came in with, we wanted to win. It was important for us to get this Big Ten Championship. As you saw, we had no quit in our game. Our attitude, it reflected out there."

Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves said the play of Zengerle and his upperclassman was the reason they took the W.

"I think I mentioned it earlier, I think the lessons from this game in terms of being mature, getting through some adverse situations, handling that," said Wisconsin head coach Mike Eaves. "As we said, the games get tougher and tougher. The difference between each team now is so little. I don't know who we're going to play next week, but it's going to be one heck of a game just like we saw tonight probably." 

For Ohio State they further proved themselves as a contender with a great tournament showing. Surpassing expectations after upsetting Minnesota, head coach Steve Rohlik said his team got a taste of their real potential.

"Like I said earlier, we build on this," said Rohlik. "I mean, this is a huge positive. Right now it hurts. But to get the experience that our guys got that are coming back, it's priceless. To be on the big stage, to be one shot away from winning what this is, I think it's a huge building block 
for us. 

"Certainly that's what we're going to build on. The guys are going to get a little time off, get back 
to the school part of things. I think our guys are really going to have a taste in their mouth for 
wanting to get back to this." 

Game Stats

Goals By Period
OSU   2   1   1   0     4
UW     1   1   2   1     5

Shots By Period
OSU   9   10   10   3     32
UW    10  12    9   5      36

OSU     0/4
UW      2/3

Top Performers

Ohio State -- Nick Oddo, 3 points (1 G, 2 A); Ryan Dzingel, 2 points (1 G, 1 A); Christian Frey, 31 saves

Wisconsin -- Mark Zengerle, 3 points (1 G, 2 A); Nic Kerdiles, 3 points (0 G, 3 A); Joel Rumpel, 28 saves

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