On 11/11, Ohio State made a wish to get their starting goalie back and find their way back to the win column. They had both wishes fulfilled as the team honored the troops for Veterans Day as Ohio State defeated UConn, 7-4, in Columbus on Friday night.
It was far from pretty and Christian Frey wasn’t really any better than Matt Tomkins was in last weekends stereo meltdowns versus Robert Morris, but the Buckeyes found a way to win as Nick Schilkey scored his 100th collegiate point and David Gust finally broke out with a hat trick.
Ohio State moves to 6-1-3 on the year while UConn falls to 3-3-4. UConn is far from a national titan, but any chance you can get to beat a Hockey East team by multiple goals after getting upended by Robert Morris of all teams is one you can’t pass up and the Buckeyes didn’t despite looking like they were going to have another clunker halfway through this one.
It did start out well, though. Josh Healey scored 9:37 into the first shorthanded and it would survive review. It was Healey’s first of the season and tenth point in his first ten ten games. John Wiitala had the lone assist.
Just before the first period ended, however, it looked like OSU had a deja vu moment reminiscent of last weekend. Right before the end of the period, Tage Thompson scored for UConn and looked like they’d send the Huskies into the intermission with all the momentum, one of RMU’s keys to victory last weekend.
David Gust had other ideas, though, as he scored just 48 seconds later at 18:52 to give Ohio State the lead right back. It was Gust’s fifth of the year and Nick Schilkey’s primary assist on the tally gave him his aforementioned 100th career collegiate point. Healey had the secondary assist for his 11th point on the year.
The Huskies must’ve still found some momentum out of that late period hectic play as they scored two goals in the first 5:15 of the second and added a third at 13:23. Johnny Austin scored UConn’s first goal of the second period to tie, Maxim Letunov scored the go ahead goal and Brian Morgan all of a sudden had UConn up 4-2 just a little more than halfway through the second.
Christian Frey had a solid first period, but he either was rusty or fatigued because it came crashing down in the second. OSU would find a way to bail him out though shortly after and in quick order. Gust made it a one goal game 45 seconds later at John Cusack’s least favorite time, 14:08, for his second of the game and sixth of the year and Mason Jobst scored just his second of the year 19 seconds later to tie it right back up.
Matthew Weis and Sasha “The Masha” Larocque had the assists on Gust’s second goal and Tanner Laczynski and Schilkey had the helpers on Jobst’s tally. Schilkey wasn’t done for the period, though. Just 75 seconds after Jobst tied it, Schilkey kept his historic night going by putting Ohio State back on top, 5-4. His powerplay goal gave Ohio State a goal they’d never relinquish and hold up as the game winner. Weis and Laczynski had the assists on the winner.
UConn may have scored three times on nine shots in that second period, one whose memory Christian Frey will want to send down whatever Springfield mystery spot Hillary’s presidential hopes went. But they couldn’t get it tied again.
Gust made sure they wouldn’t get the chance as his hat trick goal and seventh on the year gave Ohio State the 6-4 lead at 16:55 of the third. Janik Moser and Dakota Joshua, not exactly the first or second people you’d think would assist on a Gust goal, had the helpers on the one that sealed it.
Gust had just 26 shots on goal this year coming into this game but came out with eight in this game alone. He won’t be able to keep that going every game, but a more consistent effort putting shots on goal will bode well for reaching his offensive breakout of last season.
Either way, Ohio State still wasn’t done as Luke Stork put in an empty net insurance goal at 19:49, with Weis generating the assist. The entire third period was an exercise in low event hockey, something Ohio State was more than happy to do with Frey struggling and OSU having all the momentum having put up three unanswered goals before Gust and Stork made it five.
The second period is one we’ll all want to exercise from our minds, but the first and third period were fairly encouraging, as was the second post-UConn scoring their fourth goal. Gust’s breakout is key to Ohio State maintaining their high scoring average this season and three points from your best offensive player, Schilkey, is nothing to sneeze at.
Mason Jobst and Weis having good nights as well doesn’t hurt and Josh Healey showed why he’s one of the best defensemen in the Big Ten. You’d like to have that second period back, but Ohio State showed who the better team was tonight by completely bottling up UConn when they needed to.
The two teams will square off once again on Saturday night in Columbus as Ohio State will look to now have to avenge both their loss and the U.S. Soccer team’s choke job versus Mexico in Columbus on Friday. It’s never easy being a Buckeye.