I returned to the site of the 2005 Frozen Four, the Value City Arena inside the Jerome Schottenstein Center, at The Ohio State University, in the middle of Columbus, Ohio. Whew! That’s a lot to plug in an opening sentence.
The OSU Pep Band was there to greet me as I came through the front door. Very considerate, as I had driven a long way to attend.
There is a lot of sports history at OSU, and all sports are represented on the banner that runs along both sides of the walkway around the rink, or court, depending on who is playing.
But, we are back to hockey, as the Wisconsin Badgers took on the Ohio State Buckeyes on the ice. The Schott is a nice venue, but I wouldn’t say it’s all that and a bag of chips for hockey. The first eight rows are temporary seating, where the rows rise slowly, putting everyone farther away from the action than should be. It’s a big venue, with over 17,000 seats for hockey, but the upper bowl is blocked off by black sheets, and even the seats at one end of the ice received the black sheet treatment. For all of Ohio State’s rich athletic history, hockey still remains an afterthought on campus.
The Badgers would draw first blood, but they should not have. Ohio State was on the power play, and had a flurry in front of the Wisconsin net, Jack Berry made several saves, but seemed to lose sight of the puck in the melee. Somehow, the Badgers gained control, and Luke Kunin (of course) scored a nice short handed goal at the other end with one second left on the power play.
Matthew Freytag would score before the period was over, only his second goal of the year, for a 2-0 Badger lead.
Ohio State scored the only goal of the second period, with an absolutely beautiful pass out of the corner by Mason Jobst to Matthew Weis, who was right in front of the net. 2-1 Badgers after two.
Ohio State did finally step things up in the third period, but Berry was up to the task and didn’t allow another puck to get past him.
A lot of bad blood out there between the two squads. From early in the first period, the two teams were throwing punches, and there were constant skirmishes, often away from the puck.
Ryan Wagner finished up the scoring with an empty net goal for Wisconsin, which was assisted by Kunin. Giving Kunin a two point night. Berry finished with 26 saves for Wisconsin, and Christian Frey had 22 for OSU.
Most schools have some amusing traditions for the outsider, and OSU was no exception. I did enjoy the rendition of “The Hockey Song” during the second intermission, with the band members leading the way. Nice job. “Do I play hockey?”