There must be something in the water in Columbus because, just like the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Ohio State men's hockey team just can't win a game. The Buckeyes continued their gauntlet of ranked teams to start the season by losing to defending national champion Providence, 2-1, Friday night at Providence.
The Buckeyes fall to 0-5 on the season though at least every single one of their games has been against a ranked opponent so far this season. Matt Tomkins got the start in net once again for Ohio State, his fourth straight start and loss. He put together another solid effort, stopping 28 out of 30 shots, good for a .933 save percentage. He continues to assert his hold over the starting goaltender position, though Christian Frey hasn't gotten much of a shot after having a mediocre season opening performance that still included better save percentage numbers than Tomkins' over the entirety of last season.
But Coach Steve Rohlik seems to have an affinity for Tomkins, whether for his draft pedigree or something behind the scenes, and it's at least starting to pay off for him in year three together. Except for the losses, he's been much improved.
The offense was what sputtered on Friday night. Providence took a 1-0 lead on a goal at 15:24 of the first, when Tom Parisi put one past Tomkins. Providence would extend that lead to 2-0 at 6:22 of the second on a shot from just inside the blue line off the stick of Anthony Florentino. The Buckeyes were putting up shots, with 9 in the first and 13 in the second, but just couldn't buy a goal on Nick Ellis.
Enter Matt Weis. The sophomore put in his first of the season on the power play at 11:03 of the second. The New Jersey native scored on a 5-on-3 advantage for the Bucks off a feed from team leading scorer David Gust.
The third period would become an offensive horror show as both teams could only register 5 shots apiece. Neither one could find the back of the net again as the Friars managed to shut down a Buckeye team on the attack. The Buckeyes ended up only being outshot by 3, 30-27, on the night despite playing Providence tight for the second straight season.
The experiment of putting heralded freshman Dakota Joshua on the first line between Gust and Anthony Greco last night seems to have failed. It remains to be seen if Rohlik will try that again, but throwing a freshman who hadn't yet played a regular season game in college onto the top line is probably not the strategy I would have gone with.
Hopefully the Buckeyes can relive the first meeting the two teams had last season, where they took it 5-4 in overtime in Columbus. OSU lost the other meeting last year 2-1, so hopefully that's a good sign of reliving good moments that have been ever fewer so far this season.
The two teams will meet again tonight at 7 p.m. at Providence. The Buckeyes' winning percentage can't go down, so it can't really go that poorly.