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Game of the Year Nominee: Hockey rallies for Big Ten tourney title


The Badgers enjoyed their share of success in 2013-14 and now UWBadgers.com is honoring the best student-athletes, teams and performances of the year. Over the next few weeks, we'll unveil the best of the Badgers in five categories: Big Ten Medal of Honor (June 16), Athletes of the Year (June 17-21), Team Achievements of the Year (June 22-27), Games of the Year (June 28-July 5) and Freshmen of the Year (July 13-18).

Today we feature the Wisconsin men's hockey team's win over Ohio State to capture the inaugural Big Ten tournament title as a nominee for the Game of the Year.

2013-14 In Review

MADISON, Wis. -- Every once in a while a team produces a game that sticks in the minds of all who were there and the Wisconsin men’s hockey team skated in such a game to win the 2014 Big Ten Tournament.

Reaching the inaugural Big Ten tournament title game with a come-from-behind victory over Penn State in the semifinals provided a bit of foreshadowing for what was to come for the Badgers.

UW was on a quest for a unique achievement. Skating in Xcel Energy Center at the same site of the Badgers’ WCHA postseason crown from a year before, UW looked to make it two consecutive league playoff crowns with a victory over Ohio State in the inaugural Big Ten tournament title contest.

Things didn’t start the way the Badgers had hoped as the Buckeyes scored just 4:51 into the game on a Ryan Dzingel tally. Then Nick Oddo scored at 8:56 and OSU had jumped out to a 2-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the contest.

The Buckeyes were playing desperate hockey, knowing only a victory would get them to the NCAA tournament. UW was assumed to be securely into the national postseason because of its regular-season success. The scoreboard reflected that early.

Badger defenseman Jake McCabe (Eau Claire) got the Badgers on the board late in the first period, scoring with just 23 seconds left in the frame and giving UW a little life heading into the first intermission.

Freshman Morgan Zulinick (Kamloops, British Columbia) evened the game at 2-2 midway through the second period and the teams had a clean slate.

But Ohio State responded quickly, regaining the lead just 1:16 later at 12:40 of the second from the stick of Clark Cristofoli.

OSU held a 3-2 lead for over a period, until it edged ahead for a second two-goal lead when Tanner Fritz scored at 13:08 of the third period to go up 4-2.

With under seven minutes left in regulation, it appeared the Buckeyes would be on their way to the inaugural Big Ten title, but the Badgers had other plans.

The Ohio State scoring was barely announced to the arena when senior Jefferson Dahl found a deflected McCabe shot and put the puck into the net. The goal came just 20 seconds after Ohio State made it a two-goal contest.

Another 28 seconds later, Tyler Barnes found the net again for the Badgers and the score was knotted at 4-4.

The 48-second stretch that included three goals wrapped up regulation scoring, with overtime the only way to decide the championship.

On a senior-laden team, it was a senior who finished things off. Mark Zengerle raced to a loose puck in the slot at 7:48 of the first overtime and found room past OSU goaltender Christian Frey to give Wisconsin its first lead of the game, a 5-4 victory and the 2014 Big Ten Tournament championship.

ON WISCONSIN
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