Thanks to their last names, Mark Zengerle and Morgan Zulinick are part of a small club worthy of a trivia question. The linemates for the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team are among just 13 players in the college game whose last names start with the last letter of the alphabet.
If they could, Zengerle and Zulinick would make Tyler Barnes an honorary member of the group. Then again, the guys do call him Barnzie.
That threesome fueled a comeback Friday night that lifted the ninth-ranked Badgers to a 5-3 Big Ten Conference victory over Ohio State before an announced crowd of 11,328 at the Kohl Center.
Zulinick, a redshirt freshman left winger, got the tying goal and Barnes, a senior right winger, got the go-ahead-for-good conversion in the final 5 minutes, 30 seconds of the second period. Both were set up beautifully by Zengerle, a senior center.
“They were a good force tonight,” UW coach Mike Eaves said. “They need to be consistent with that. If they can do that, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”
Junior defenseman Jake McCabe, senior defenseman Joe Faust and junior center Joseph LaBate (power play) also came through with conversions for UW, while junior goaltender Joel Rumpel was credited with 23 saves.
The decision kept the Badgers (14-6-1 overall, 5-2 with 15 points in league play) in sole possession of second place heading into the series finale tonight. They also improved to 10-1 on their 12-game homestand.
The Zengerle line finished with two goals, four assists, six shots and a plus-6 rating. Zengerle added to the impressive line by going 16-8 on face-offs.
The three have a shared trait that showed up time and again this night.
“We all want to pass to each other,” said Zengerle, who has 112 career assists and needs one more to crack the program’s top 10. “That’s what we’re good at.”
Zulinick began the season with Zengerle and Barnes but has been shuffled all over the place, including out of the lineup because he didn’t seem to be doing much. He’s played center and left wing. He’s been on the fourth line as well as the first. He’s been on and off the power play.
Zulinick said the opportunity to play with Zengerle makes his life pretty easy.
“He battles down low and he can find guys, too,” Zulinick said. “When I play with a guy like that, I just have to get open.”
Barnes, who got his 10th goal to reach double figures for the third straight season, said the line’s strength was tenacity.
“The biggest thing we did was win battles in the corner,” he said. “And when we got the puck we brought it to the net. … We didn’t hesitate.”
In a meeting of two top-five offenses — both were ranked fourth averaging 3.55 goals per outing — Ohio State (11-9-1, 1-5-1, 4 points) got all its production from special teams. Two came on the power play, resulting in a 2-1 advantage midway through the second, and one was shorthanded.
The Buckeyes, making their first appearance in Madison in 45 years, came into the series hamstrung but hardly wide-eyed.
Two of their top defensemen, Craig Dalrymple and Curtis Gedig, didn’t make the trip due to injuries. But Ohio State was a week removed from playing top-ranked Minnesota outdoors before a crowd of 45,021 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, so its members didn’t look skittish playing before a riled-up crowd augmented by a boisterous student section.
UW began its comeback after left winger Ryan Dzingel and right winger Nick Schlikey provided the Buckeyes with a 2-1 lead via the power play.
Zulinick tied it when his shot from the left circle clipped the skate of right winger Anthony Greco and angled past goaltender Matt Tomkins (24 saves).
Zengerle set that play up by outhustling defenseman Sam Jardine for a loose puck behind the cage and feeding Zulinick. He did the same thing for Barnes moments later.
Again Zengerle preyed on Jardine, outmaneuvering him for possession and feeding Barnes in the slot. Tomkins made the first save, but couldn’t deny the follow-up that gave UW the lead for good.
“When you make breakdowns like that they’re going to make you pay, and Wisconsin made us pay,” Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik said.
Eaves lauded the way his team kept on task when things weren’t going smoothly in the first 30 to 35 minutes, a byproduct of a week off since sweeping a series from Michigan Jan. 10 and 11.
“We weren’t connecting dots. We weren’t catching the puck. We weren’t used to the pace and the battling,” he said.
“Because we didn’t panic, because we have that maturity level, I think that eventually led to us staying on top of it and getting our game going.”
Ohio State 1 1 1 — 3
Wisconsin 1 2 2 — 5
First period: W — McCabe 6 (Paape, Meuer), 2:20. OS — Dzingel 14 (Brevig, McCormick), 14:42 (pp). Penalties: Oddo, OS (5-minute major, 10-minute game misconduct, checking from behind; served by Schilkey), 7:49; Paape, W, 14:23.
Second period: OS — Schilkey 7 (Jardine, Dzingel), 10:55 (pp). W — Zulinick 2 (Zengerle, Barnes), 14:30; Barnes 10 (Zengerle), 17:17. Penalties: Simonelli, W, 9:09; Mersch, W, 15:10.
Third period: W — Faust 2 (McCabe, Barnes), :42. OS — Gust 5, 17:33 (sh); LaBate 8 (Simonelli, Zulinick), 18:29 (pp). Penalties: Gust, OS, 1:11; Navin, W, 8:38; McCabe, W, 12:00; McCormick, OS, 16:49; Faust, W, 19:57.
Saves: OS (Tomkins 6-10-8) 24; W (Rumpel 8-7-8) 23.