This past weekend, Wisconsin headed to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., to compete in the inaugural Big Ten Hockey tournament.

Most hockey fans were likely not surprised that the Badgers claimed the championship on Saturday night, albeit in a nail-biting overtime game.

However, what some may have been a little taken aback by was the fact that Wisconsin’s opponent was Ohio State, and not No. 1 ranked Minnesota.

In fact, the big bad Golden Gophers were eliminated in the semifinal round by unranked Ohio State.

I couldn’t help but notice the influx of Minnesota fans cheering on all of Wisconsin’s opponents and then their own team, only to watch all of them lose, and their border rival go on to take the trophy.

Even in the state of hockey, things are unpredictable.

Minnesota wasn’t the only team whose presence, or lack thereof, came unexpected to fans and spectators. Penn State, who managed to secure only seven wins during the regular season, upended No. 3 Michigan in a double overtime quarterfinal matchup to move on to the next round.

The Wolverines were out faster than they could say Big House.

In the biggest upset of the tournament, Ohio State eliminated Minnesota 3-1 in the semifinal round before moving on to face Wisconsin. Despite having a Big Ten points leader on their team and a Hobey Baker finalist between the pipes, they had to settle for a conference title, and not the championship.

The point I’m getting at here is hockey, like most other sports, is always poised for a Cinderella story. What makes these tournaments and league championships so exciting is not just the No. 1 ranked teams, but also the notion that there may be an underdog ready to shake things up.

The inaugural Big Ten tournament displayed not only some great hockey games, but set the stage for what will undoubtedly be exciting and competitive tournaments from these college programs in years to come.

It gets boring watching the top-seeded teams win all the time. Sometimes we need the last place guys to provide an interesting storyline.

And let’s be honest, it never hurts when they beat Minnesota.

What were your impressions from the first ever Big Ten hockey tournament? Email asfeiner@wisc.edu and let Adee know what you think.

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