Ohio State just can't get out of its own way sometimes. Last weekend, the Bucks took Penn State to a shootout in the first game and beat them by four goals in the second. They split with Michigan the week before. One would posit that they then should be able to handle a team that has just one conference victory. Well that one's position would be wrong.
The Ohio State mens hockey team fell on Friday night to the Spartans of Michigan State by a score of 4-2. Michigan State opened up a multiple goal lead and with Ohio State's lack of playmakers going up against MSU dropping four defenders back into the zone in front of Jake Hildebrand, there just wasn't enough OSU could do in time.
Christian Frey seems to have asserted himself as the number one goaltender, and got the start for the Buckeyes against the 1-7 in conference with a -24 goal differential Spartans. Ohio State is +1 in conference, by the way, so you'd think this would be as easy a win in conference that the Bucks would get. Whoops!
Things started out on the cruddy end of the spectrum almost from the puck drop for Ohio State as MSU's Dylan Pavelek scored at 3:02. Mike Ferrantino would make it 2-0 in favor of the Spartans as he put one home with just under ten minutes left in the first. Not a great start! Nick Schilkey, clearly OSU's best player this season, cut the lead in half on a snipe off a faceoff win by Matt Weis at 17:45. Shots were 12-8 MSU in the first despite the early lead, so Ohio State was probably lucky to get out of there down one.
The second wouldn't be much better for the Bucks as they couldn't tie it up on their man advantage opportunity before Michigan State made it 3-1 on a late goal by Brennan Sanford to put MSU up 3-1 heading into the intermission. OSU was blown off the ice in the period, with the Spartans outshooting the trailing Buckeyes 14-5 in the second.
In the third, Ohio State finally woke up from its zombie trance and looked like they were going to get back in it and at least possibly force overtime. Mason Jobst, a fireball in the entire period until the end, made it a 3-2 game on a goal at 3:30. David Gust extended his point streak to 12 with an assist on the tally. Ohio State would keep plying pressure on MSU but just couldn't tie it up.
Michigan State was dropping four defenders back at least, and with Ohio State's lack of a Ryan Dzingel type to cut through that defense, there wasn't anything they could do. Schilkey got close a few times and Dakota Joshua won a few battles along the boards, but they just couldn't get one in. Frey was pulled with just under two minutes left, but Ohio State still couldn't get substantial pressure in the offensive zone.
Michigan State would send one toward OSU's net with 1:10 to go and that would do it for Ohio State. Mackenzie MacEachern put it in on a long shot from center ice to nail this one down.
Ohio State and Michigan State now both have two wins apiece in conference, with OSU's 2-4-2-1 conference record trumping Michigan State's 2-7 record by a score of 9 points to 6. The two teams will meet again on Saturday night at Value City Arena at 7pm.