Recapping the 2021 Big Ten Hockey Tournament

Story posted March 18, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Logan Bourandas

The highly anticipated Big Ten tournament came and went, and as the dust settled, it was the Minnesota Golden Gophers who ended up champions. The second-seeded Golden Gophers beat top-seeded Wisconsin 6-4 in the championship game.

The Golden Gophers had finished in second place for the second straight regular season before the tournament. They went on to avoid a scare in the first round against No. 7 seed Michigan State. The game went to overtime, and the Spartans even held a 1-0 lead until the third period.

But the Gophers were saved with a goal from Bryce Brodzinski to tie the game 1-1 before Sampo Ranta sunk in the overtime winner.

From there, the Golden Gophers went on to beat No. 3 seed Michigan in yet another overtime game, winning 3-2. The team had to once again play from behind as the Wolverines jumped out to a 2-0 lead with goals from Kent Johnson and Garrett Van Wyhe.

Just like in the previous game, the Golden Gophers came alive in the third period with the hero from last game Ranta tying the contest 2-2. Sammy Walker would score in overtime, sending the Golden Gophers to the championship.

This was one of two semifinal matchups that would require overtime as Wisconsin and the surprise of the tournament Penn State were in a battle of their own. The Nittany Lions shocked Notre Dame the round before to get there and were now in a position to shock the top-seeded Badgers.

The Nittany Lions had 2-1 and 3-2 leads in the game—then Cole Caufield happened. Like he’s done his entire career, the Montreal Canadiens prospect came alive when the game mattered most. Caufield tied the game on a power play late in the third period and scored the game-winner in overtime.

Wisconsin and Minnesota, each overtime winners in the semifinals, would set up a duel for the ages with both teams ranked in the top five nationally. Head-to-head, Wisconsin had the upper hand, winning three out of the last four games. That stretch includes a series sweep by the Badgers in which they scored 12 goals in two games.

When the game started, though, it was all Minnesota. With the Golden Gophers already up 1-0, they scored four more goals in the second to take a 5-1 lead into the final frame. The Badgers would make a strong comeback with three goals at the start of the period—the third and final one being from Caufield—but it wasn’t enough. An empty netter would ice the game for the Golden Gophers, as they became the first Big Ten conference tournament champions since Notre Dame back in 2019.

 

Logan Bourandas is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email lxb5412@psu.edu.