Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Wisconsin's last-day upset helps Ohio State clinch home ice for B1G tournament opening round

When the dust cleared, Michigan, Ohio State and Notre Dame will be the first round hosts as the 2023 Big Ten tournament gets underway with a trio of best-of-three series next weekend.

Ohio State goalie Jakub Dobes made a pad save versus Minnesota on February 24, 2023 at 3M Arena at Mariucci in Minneapolis.
Jim Rosvold / Special to The Rink Live

MINNEAPOLIS – Steve Rohlik got a national championship, a college degree and the knowledge needed for a successful coaching career during his time on campus at Wisconsin. And three decades after he last wore a Badgers letter jacket on a stroll down State Street, Rohlik’s Ohio State team got a nice boost from his alma mater as the Big Ten tournament picture came into focus on the final night of the regular season.

Wisconsin (6-18-0, 18 points, 33 Pairwise), which came into the weekend guaranteed of a seventh-place finish in the seven-team league, upset Penn State 2-1 on Saturday in State College, which clinched home ice for the Buckeyes, despite Ohio State getting swept at Minnesota.

“You work hard to get home ice. We got home ice. It doesn’t matter who we play, we’ve just got to walk out of here and get better,” Rohlik said, as his team prepared to head back to Columbus on Saturday evening. He added that two intense games versus the top-ranked Gophers in a playoff-type atmosphere will likely help the Buckeyes (11-11-2, 36 points, 9 Pairwise) as they practice for a best-of-three series with Penn State.

The Nittany Lions (10-13-1, 34 points, 8 Pairwise) routed Wisconsin on Friday, but suffered a power outage in the rematch and will head to the Buckeyes’ rink for the postseason.

Michigan State was idle last weekend, and the Spartans (10-12-2, 34 points, 19 Pairwise) found themselves in the odd position of rooting for arch-rival Michigan on Saturday night. A Wolverines win versus Notre Dame in the season finale would have had the Spartans hosting a first round playoff series. Instead, the Irish (10-10-4, 35 points, 13 Pairwise) got an overtime goal from Drew Bavaro, and those two points in the standings leapfrogged them over Michigan State. Notre Dame will host the Spartans in a playoff series next weekend as a result.


Michigan (12-10-2, 38 points, 3 Pairwise) locked up second place with the point they earned by taking Notre Dame to overtime, and will host Wisconsin at Yost Ice Arena. After a seven-game winning streak in late January and early February, the Wolverines head into the playoffs having gone 0-2-2 in their final four regular season games.

Wisconsin players huddled around starting goalie Kyle McClellan before a game between the Badgers and Minnesota Gophers on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023 at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.
Larry Radloff / Special to The Rink Live

Perhaps the most impressive attribute for Wisconsin, despite finishing in the conference cellar, is that the Badgers have one win against each of the Big Ten’s other six teams.

After round one is concluded, the lowest remaining seed will travel to Minnesota for a one-game semifinal versus the Gophers (19-4-1, 57 points, 1 Pairwise) on March 11. Following the sweep of Ohio State, Gophers coach Bob Motzko said his team will work hard to avoid rust during the coming week off, as they await their first playoff foe. With one forward and two defensemen missing from the lineup due to injury, the Gophers will spend some important time healing as well.

Starting next season, men's and women's season-ticket holders for the Minnesota Gophers will be able to return seats they cannot use and get credit for future season ticket purchases.
Todd Inkrott and new Badgers hockey coach Mike Hastings had worked together for more than a decade at MSU Mankato. He becomes the latest former Mavs staffer to follow the coach east.
The defenseman originally from southern California was a four-year regular on the U of M blue line, and a first-round pick of Buffalo in 2019.
Transfers from St. Lawrence, Princeton and UMD will help bolster the Gophers on the back end next season as they try to find a way back to the Frozen Four and repeat as WCHA tourney champs.
The Minnesota Gophers center led the team in scoring on the way to a Big Ten title and a trip to the NCAA title game, and recently announced he will return for a sophomore college hockey season.
"We are excited to bring Nick and his family to the University of Wisconsin," head coach Mike Hastings said.
The former Minnesota Mr. Hockey winner is coming off a senior campaign where he notched career highs in goals and points while playing right wing on the Gophers' second line much of the season.
When the vote to build a new Arizona Coyotes rink in Tempe failed, a big piece of their future decided that NHL hockey can wait another year, and Logan Cooley announced his return to the U of M.
After leading the Minnesota Gophers in all offensive categories as a freshman, the talented center from Pittsburgh will hold off on signing a pro contract and make another run at a NCAA title.
After coming to the U of M as a walk-on in 2019, Justen Close became the team's mainstay in goal in January 2022 and has backstopped two Big Ten titles and two Frozen Four trips.

He said they are finalizing plans for a practice and intersquad scrimmage in Rochester, Minn., on March 4, similar to last year when Motzko took the team to his hometown of Austin, Minn., during the playoff bye week.

“We’re going to be home for a month, so let’s get out of town,” he said. “We have to replicate some energy and some game-type situations and we’re going to do it not here. We’re going to have some good healthy practices as well, and then we’ll know our fate after next weekend and start to get ready.”

Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
What to read next
Paul Kirtland was a Mavericks assistant under former head coach Mike Hastings. He leaves the MSU program to return to his alma mater after Luke Strand was named the Mavs' head coach in April.
The Minnesota Gophers' biggest body and top faceoff man scored his career-best 10th goal of the 2022-23 season in the second period of the NCAA title game in Tampa,
The Twin Cities rivals will meet for the first time at the home rink of the NHL's Minnesota Wild, with tickets set to go on sale in August.
Renowned for his skating as a Minnesota Gopher, Roseau native Bill Yon is back in his hometown, loving life as a pilot and helping preserve the history in one of the state's great hockey communities.
Get Local