Men's hockey captures first Big Ten championship
- Author: Leroy Wright Mar 20, 2017,
Mar 20, 2017, 9:58
The Union men's hockey team will play Big Ten Tournament champion Penn State (24-11-2) in the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Cincinnati. The first step was accomplished on Friday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
Matt Ustaski's goal for the Badgers (20-15-1) with 8:15 left in regulation forced the extended session. With a better performance in the ECACH Tournament, Union likely would have stayed closer to home, but at this point, head coach Rick Bennett isn't going to be picky. "I think every inch of ice was battled for and it was two teams that understood what was available to them".
"The guys were exhausted, long game last night, but man this is a team that has a lot of character and a lot of heart and it showed on the ice tonight", said Jones when interviewed by the BTN following the game. The play of freshman goalie Peyton Jones, who was named the B1G Tournament Most Outstanding Player, will forever be remembered by Penn State fans. "I wasn't going to say it, and guys in the locker room weren't going to say it, but we were exhausted". Liam Folkes scored his second goal of the game, 6:43 into the second overtime to clinch the conference's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament.
The Nittany Lions (24-11-2) survived a trying three days in Detroit, first dispatching MI before stunning regular-season champion Minnesota in double overtime on Friday, then going two extra periods again the next night against the Badgers.
After combining for 12 victories the previous two years, the Badgers reached 20 wins in Tony Granato's first season, finishing runner-up in both the Big Ten regular season and the Big Ten tournament. Senior Aidan Cavallini also added his sixth assist of the season on the game-winning goal. "I just do that move in practice all the time, and it worked out here".
Wisconsin had its chances in the second overtime period, including a shot on the power play from freshman forward Trent Frederic that dinged off the crossbar. UW was able to pass around the puck for most of the extended power play and saw out the rest of the game without any threat towards their net.
He was part of a duel between freshman goaltenders, with Berry equally impressive with 33 saves.
With the win, Wisconsin improved to 16-1-1 when scoring first. "What a game. Just a great game from everybody".