Well, this is probably the best Ohio State's looked in hockey since November.
It may be a little late in the season for the Buckeyes to start showing life, but the Ohio State Men's hockey team has shown more life this weekend than they've shown in months. Despite being decided underdogs against Penn State, OSU swept the Nittany Lions in back to back games at Value City Arena this weekend. Spoiler, thy name is Brutus.
This is essentially the death knell for Penn State's regular season Big Ten title chances as they're now eight points behind Michigan for the conference lead. If the Buckeyes hadn't upset Michigan in one of their games last weekend, the lead would be eleven. Ohio State improved to 6-10 in conference and are closer to Penn State, seven points back, than Penn State is to Michigan.
Things didn't start out too swell for the Bucks, however, as Penn State took a 2-0 lead in the first on goals by Casey Bailey at 11:45 and Taylor Holstrom at 16:32. OSU would get one back just 43 seconds later as Anthony Greco redirected a Justin DaSilva shot to cut the lead to one. OSU controlled the first and had a sizable shot advantage before the Penn State goals, but PSU capitalized where Ohio State didn't and took the lead despite OSU's 15-10 shot advantage.
But just 4:52 into the second, Ohio State got a goal from a point shot for the second straight night. This time it was Sam Jardine, following Josh Healey's effort from the night before, to tie the game up. Penn State appeared to take the lead at 6:32, but the goal was overturned due to there being a distinct kicking motion, keeping the game tied. That apparently made Penn State angry since they scored just 21 seconds later on the next shift. Defenseman Mike Williamson put home the go ahead goal. OSU led in shots again in the second, 13-12, but Penn State held serve on the scoreboard and maintained their one goal lead.
This apparently made Ohio State mad.
Nick Schilkey tied it up at 9:18 of the third and Tanner Fritz gave Ohio State its first lead at 11:15. Nick Jones then scored at 13:35 to put OSU up 2. It was his first collegiate goal. That put OSU up 5-3, which would be where the score would stay until the clock hit 0:00.
Christian Frey got the start for the Buckeyes again and appears to have firmly taken over the starting goalie position. He wasn't great tonight as he allowed three goals despite Penn State not exactly peppering him with shots like they did on Friday with only 27 tonight, but his play has clearly been an upgrade over the disappointing Matt Tomkins, despite the latter's being drafted into the NHL before coming to Columbus.
In the end, this may have been Ohio State's best effort of the season, outshooting Penn State 44-27 and storming back in the third. The goaltending wasn't great and hasn't been all year, but the offense has certainly been encouraging this weekend. Worst case scenario, the Buckeyes should certainly have some confidence going into next weekend versus Minnesota in Columbus.