In the first game of a two game series versus Omaha in Columbus last night, the Ohio State Men's hockey team fell 4-1 to No. 19 Omaha. The Buckeyes are now just 2-4-1 during their nonconference slate so far in the young season.
Omaha went up one in the first period and extended the lead to two in the second. Ohio State scored once in the third to chop the lead in half on a goal by Matt Johnson on a rebound off a shot by Luke Stork. But just two minutes later, Avery Peterson scored on the power play for Omaha to bring the lead back up to two. Ian Brady added a fourth Omaha goal to go up 4-1 after Ohio State pulled Matt Tomkins with around three minutes left.
Omaha also had a goal disallowed earlier in the game, when leading 1-0, due to the puck being hit in with a glove. They'd score just a few minutes later anyway to go up 2-0.
OSU, unlike in their games versus Miami, didn't get outshot. Omaha was outshot 26-19 by the Buckeyes, but Matt Tomkins still allowed three goals on the 18 shots he faced (the 19th was the empty net goal), for a robust save percentage of .833. That kind of number is only draftable if you're Martin Brodeur's son. Again, Christian Frey clearly has been the better goalie this season but Coach Rohlik seems to be favoring Tomkins. Frey got the quick hook last weekend but Tomkins was demonstrably worse here but got to stay in. Tomkins was a draftee and Frey wasn't but at some point actual production and, ya know, almost singlehandedly winning the conference tournament last year, should matter. It's simply too hard to win with the lower save percentages, for the most part, that Matt Tomkins has been putting up. Maybe the save percentage realization hasn't made it to college hockey yet or maybe Rohlik just doesn't care, but he should if he's actually interested in winning.
Even though you'd think that OSU's shot advantage may have only come from Omaha staying in a defensive shell once they got up, OSU actually had their best period of shot differential in the first where Omaha was only up one at most. Things narrowed as the game went along in terms of shots, so that is a very good sign. Normally you could attribute that differential to score effects, but it seems that OSU legitimately outplayed Omaha, except in goal.
There's a lot of luck in hockey and with short 26 shot samples, fewer than you'd expect might go in. But if you're putting in the demonstrably worse goalie in terms of save percentage, you're not helping your luck out on the other end.
This effort came on Military Appreciation Day for Ohio State. OSU wore camouflage jerseys with military branches instead of names on the back of the jerseys. Ohio State's ROTC Master Sergeant James Finfrock rappelled from the rafters to bring the game puck while the Ohio National Guard's Private First Class Taren Davis dropped the ceremonial puck. Current OSU student and Marine veteran Zach Cooper addressed the team before the game. His talk can be seen here. The jerseys the Buckeyes wore are being auctioned off for the charity Defending the Blue Line and the auction can be reached here.
The Buckeyes will take on Omaha again on Saturday night at 7pm at Value City Arena.