Frozen Tundra Hockey Classic review

By DJ Powers

A crowd of 40,890 braved the elements to watch the host University of Wisconsin Badgers beat the Ohio State Buckeyes 4-2 in the Frozen Tundra Hockey Classic (also this year’s US Hockey Hall of Fame Game) at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI on Saturday.

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect and Wisconsin junior Robbie Earl notched a goal and assist to help lead the Badgers. In addition to Earl, six other NHL prospects on the Wisconsin Badgers roster tallied at least a point in the game.

Wisconsin came out with the early jump and almost immediately cashed in with the game’s first goal at the 22-second mark. Team captain Adam Burish (CHI) got his eighth of the season from junior Joe Pavelski (SJ) when he retrieved his own rebound and swept it past Buckeyes senior goaltender Dave Caruso for the score. There had been some speculation prior to the game that Burish, who is battling a knee problem, would not play.

Ohio State appeared to have gotten the equalizer at the 7:35 mark when junior defenseman Sean Collins banked in a rebound shot past Connelly. However, the goal was reviewed it was waived off, much to the dismay of the Buckeyes bench. The reason given was because the net was off of its moorings when Collins shot went in.

The Buckeyes would get another shot at tying up the game at the 9:17 mark when Wisconsin junior Jake Dowell (CHI) was sent off on a roughing call. The power play had been one of Ohio State’s weaknesses coming into the match and it would continue as the Badgers were excellent on the penalty kill all game.

One of the more memorable plays of the game came at about the 17:30 mark of the period when Earl put on one of his patented ‘dance’ moves to get around Ohio State defenseman Collins to get to the Buckeyes net and a quality scoring chance. Collins was equal to the task as he made a nice defensive play on Earl to save a potential goal.

The referees were calling the game very closely as evidenced by the many number of penalties that were assessed, particularly in the opening period.

The second period saw Ohio State play some of their best hockey of the game. The Buckeyes generated several quality chances on goal and gave the Badgers some trouble in their own zone throughout the period.

At the 11:11 mark, junior Dave Barton finally got the Buckeyes on the board with his fourth on the season. The unassisted goal was off of a lucky bounce that Connelly would’ve loved to have back. Barton simply flung a shot on net from the offensive zone blue line that took a bounce in front of Connelly before going into the net.

Like Ohio State, Wisconsin also came into the match wanting to improve their power play. At the 16:58 mark, sophomore defenseman Kyle Klubertanz (ANA) would tally one with his fourth of the season to help the cause and restore the Badgers lead. Klubertanz unloaded a cannon of a slap shot that made it through traffic in front of the Buckeyes net and beat Caruso five-hole for the goal.

The early portion of the third period saw some breakaway opportunities for Ohio State sophomore Tom Fritsche (COL), Wisconsin freshman Ben Street and senior defenseman Tom Gilbert (EDM). Unfortunately for all three players, none resulted in goals.

The Badgers would add to their lead at 6:57 when junior Andrew Joudrey (WSH) netted his seventh on the year. The goal, which would become the eventual game-winner, was the result of some great work along the boards by Dowell and senior Ryan MacMurchy (STL). Joudrey managed to fend off Ohio State senior defenseman Nate Guenin (NYR) in front of the net to not only get a nice feed from MacMurchy, but also slip it behind Caruso for the score.

Less than a minute later, Ohio State would get an opportunity to cut into Wisconsin’s lead on the power play when junior defenseman Matt Olinger would be sent off for interference. Once again, the Buckeyes would fail to capitalize with the man-advantage.

The save and perhaps play of the game came at about the 15-minute mark when Caruso went one-on-one with Earl, who had gotten in on a two-on-none situation with Pavelski. Earl did a nice job of trying to get Caruso to commit first but the Roswell, GA native firmly stood his ground, instead forcing Earl to take a high shot that would end up going over the net.

Moments later, Ohio State looked to have gotten something that they absolutely didn’t need – another injury. Junior Kenny Bernard collided with MacMurchy in the neutral zone and ended up getting the worst of it. He had to be helped off of the ice with what looked to be a thigh injury.

At 15:57 the Buckeyes cut the Badgers lead to just one when sophomore Sam Campbell tallied his fourth of the season. Campbell skated deep in the Wisconsin zone before pushing the puck towards the net. Campbell circled around the net to the other side and retrieved the loose puck that was fluttering around before bouncing off of what appeared to be Wisconsin sophomore Ross Carlson’s skate. Campbell then proceeded to wrist it by Connelly for the goal.

Down by one goal and time running out in regulation, Ohio State pulled Caruso for the extra attacker at 18:35.

Earl would put the frosting on the cake at 19:03 on an empty-net goal. The goal would be his 15th of the season and his second point in the game.

Twenty seconds later, tempers would flare up in front of the Ohio State bench that resulted in four players being assessed roughing minors with Buckeyes junior defenseman Matt Waddell getting an extra minor for cross-checking.

Caruso, who was the busier of the two netminders, turned in an outstanding performance in the game and finished with 27 saves in the losing cause.

One continuing problem that the Buckeyes need to address in what remains of the regular season, is how to get the power play back on track. Ohio State went 0-7 with the man advantage in the contest. Their last power play goal was back on Feb. 3 in the 7-5 over Michigan.

With the win, Wisconsin improved to 10-0-0 over Ohio State in their series history.

And what would a win at Lambeau Field be without the “Lambeau Leap” Badgers hockey style? One of the lasting images of the game will likely be the leap into the stands that the Wisconsin players made after the game in almost full gear including skates.

NOTES: Wisconsin junior goaltender Brian Elliott (OTT) dressed for the game but did not play. He is expected to return to the lineup next weekend when the Badgers travel to Houghton, MI to take on the Michigan Tech Huskies.

With the 12 minutes of penalties that he accrued in the game, Ohio State senior defenseman Nate Guenin moved into sixth place on Ohio State’s all-time career penalty minutes list with 394.

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