Ohio State sure picked a good time to play its best hockey of the year. The Buckeyes upset the number four seeded Penn State Nittany Lions to advance to the semi-finals of the Big Ten Men's Ice Hockey Tournament to face number one seeded Minnesota.
The fifth seeded Buckeyes dominated the first two periods thoroughly. They trailed in shots after one 11-7, but led in shots attempted 25-19. Not coincidentally, they also had a 2-0 lead going into the first intermission. Nick Schilkey scored on the Bucks' first shot of the game with a tally at 8:01 of the first and that was followed by a blast from Justin DaSilva to make it 2-0 at 14:13 of the first.
Penn State looked like it was getting some good opportunities on Christian Frey, including an early breakaway that he stoned, but he stopped every single one of them in the first to preserve the shutout. The first period also had an almost-goal from Christian Lampasso on a blind shot through the crease. If it'd hit PSU goalie Eamon McAdam, it may have gone in but it flew harmlessly through untouched. David Gust also almost scored one flying in out of nowhere to get a shot from the slot. That would be an ongoing theme in this one.
In the second, OSU came out flat dominating. The Buckeyes had six of the first seven chances and looked like they had their foot on the throats of the Nittany Lions. Nick Schilkey had a perfect set up to the slot but the McAdam was there. Nick Jones got in nearly alone but couldn't finish his deke with a good shot. Matt Weis almost put in a wraparound.
And then Penn State somehow found a slowly developing 2-on-1 and Max Gardiner put a perfectly placed shot over the shoulder of Christian Frey to cut the lead to 2-1. There was only a centimeter, maybe, of space and he found it. The goal came at 9:38.
Enter David Gust. He came flying through once again but this time didn't miss. At 19:00 of the second, he flew in on a breakaway from a pass from the opposite blueline. He played the game of his life today and had chance after chance before finally burying one that would end up being the dagger.
In the third, Penn State came out desperately and looked to have the momentum, with the Buckeyes playing a more defensive style to protect the lead. But with an injured Taylor Holstrom and the lack of high end talent in the forward group, the Nittany Lions just didn't have enough offensive fire power to get a couple past Frey, who seems to have found the same game he had last year that carried the Buckeyes to the tournament title game.
The Buckeyes will play Minnesota tomorrow at 4:30 on BTN where they hope to upset the Golden Gophers for the second straight year. Frey led them to a 3-1 victory in the semi-finals last year and will hope to do it again.