Despite a game on home ice on Friday and a ridiculous effort from Christian Frey on Saturday, the No. 17 Ohio State Men's Hockey team fell in both of its games this weekend versus No. 11 Miami University.
On Friday at Value City Arena, the Buckeyes fell 5-1 and fell to 1-2 on the season. Miami struck twice in the first on the power play on goals by Riley Barber and Sean Kuraly. The Buckeyes narrowed it to a 2-1 deficit before Miami struck three more times unanswered to win 5-1. Matt Tomkins got the start for OSU on Friday after his effort in almost stealing the second game versus Providence last weekend, but probably won't be seeing a majority of the starts after what Christian Frey did on Saturday night.
Frey made 60 saves in the Buckeyes' 2-1 loss at Miami in the second leg of the home and home. OSU scored the first goal of the game on a goal by Anthony Greco, his fourth of the season, but Miami scored two in less than two minutes in the second period to take a lead they wouldn't give up. Louie Belpedio scored the first Miami goal and Alex Wideman scored the winner just a short while later. Frey stopped every shot after that, including 23 in just the third period alone with the Buckeyes trailing but OSU couldn't put one in.
There are a few takeaways from the weekend series here. First of all, and what should not have been a question based on what they did last season just because of one good game in the young season, Matt Tomkins should not get starts over Christian Frey. He should strictly be a backup. Tomkins played better against Providence than Frey, but that shouldn't overrule what Frey did in almost carrying OSU to the Big Ten tournament win last season and the second game proved that. Frey easily outpaced Tomkins in Save Percentage last season and he put up a game last night that Tomkins can only dream of. Tomkins has the pedigree as a draft pick while Frey came in midseason last year with little fanfare, but the fact of the matter is that Frey has consistently outperformed Tomkins since he's arrived and should not be splitting starts versus ranked teams.
Second of all, any goodwill the team generated in nearly sweeping Providence and rising into the Top 25 is gone and forgotten after last night. You simply cannot say you're a good team and allow 23 shots in the third period when you're losing. When you're losing, generally, it's easier to get shot attempts just because the other team acts more conservatively. Miami may be more aggressive than many, but it's not acceptable to allow 62 shots in a game and more than a third in the period when you're losing and desperately need a goal. Another 27 shot attempts were blocked so this could have been way worse too. The Buckeyes possession game simply can't get worse than it was last night, in the first game they allowed 50 shots in in 12 years.
Ohio State looked like a possible tournament team versus Providence and looked like they might be challenging Penn State for last in the conference after last night. We'll see if they can swing more toward the former than the latter in their next games, in two weeks after a bye week next weekend, at Canisius.