Buckeyes Upset Gophers, Reach B1G Title Game

Tournament time continues for the Ohio State men's hockey team, which posted a big upset on Friday evening to down No. 1 Minnesota in a Big Ten semifinal. Ohio State advanced to the first-ever Big Ten championship game and keeps its season alive with the win.

Do you believe in miracles?

OK, that would be a bit much, even though the sport in question is hockey, but the Ohio State men's hockey team pulled off quite the upset Friday night, downing No. 1 Minnesota by a 3-1 score to advance to the Big Ten tournament final in St. Paul, Minn.

The win keeps alive Ohio State's season, and the Buckeyes will play for an NCAA tournament bid Saturday night when they take on second-seeded Wisconsin in the first-ever league final.

It was a big upset considering Minnesota entered as the Big Ten regular-season champion and the top team in the country, but this edition of Buckeye hockey – under first-year head coach Steve Rohlik – has quite a bit of talent and played a disciplined, opportunistic game to down the Golden Gophers in the Xcel Energy Center.

The Buckeyes also overcame a season marked by a crazy turn of events at goaltender and a number of close losses to beat Minnesota (25-6-6) thanks to goals by Big Ten all-freshman team member Nick Schilkey, first-team All-Big Ten choice Ryan Dzingel and Anthony Greco.

And one can't forget true freshman goaltender Christian Frey, who joined the team in midseason from the junior ranks and turned aside 30 of 31 Minnesota shots.

Ohio State – the fourth seed who beat fifth-seeded Michigan State in OT in the tournament opener – never trailed while improving to 18-13-5.

"Well, I guess first and foremost, I'm really proud of our locker room, our guys, in order to come out here and play the No. 1 team in the country in their backyard," Rohlik said. "Obviously, our guys never played here on a big stage. I thought we played well. We played well enough to win the game tonight.

"We bent, but we didn't break. We have to expect to win. That's what we told our team. You have to expect to win every game you play no matter who you play. We just beat the best team in the country tonight. It's a good feeling, but we're not done yet."

Schilkey scored the opening goal on the power play at 15:20 of the first right from in front of the net, tipping in pass from the left circle from Tanner Fritz.

Minnesota tied the score in the second when Kyle Rau tallied on the power play 4:47 into the second. He finished off a tic-tac-toe move from right in front on a pass from Taylor Cammrata to thrill the partisans.

But the game winner came off the stick of Dzingel – the league's leading scorer – at 9:08 of the third. He took a pass in the high slot and unleashed a shot through traffic that beat Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox, the league netminder of the year.

"It was a garbage goal," Dzingel said. "That's how playoff hockey is. Threw it into the net. Usually the first one doesn't go in on him, but that one went in."

Minnesota pushed but never truly threatened, and Greco scored the game-clinching empty-netter with 26.6 seconds to play as he threw the puck in from the far side of the red line.

The Buckeyes will try to win the inaugural league tournament Saturday night against the Badgers, just like they did while capturing the initial Central Collegiate Hockey Association in 1972. A win tomorrow would provide OSU with just its third league title in program history as the last one came in 2004 with a similar three wins in three days in the CCHA tournament.

"Obviously we know we need to focus one game at a time, win to advance," Schilkey said. "That's really what our focus has been on."

The Buckeyes and Badgers split the season series.

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