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Ohio State hockey ties Robert Morris, 4-4

The Buckeyes lose the weekend home-and-home series to the Colonials with Saturday’s tie.

Big Ten Men's Ice Hockey Championship Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

One Ohio State team a week must be obligated to struggle against much worse opposition. And with the football Buckeyes beating Nebraska to a pulp, the hockey team bravely took on that mantle.

The Ohio State mens hockey team tied with Robert Morris on Saturday night, 4-4, in Pittsburgh, despite mostly controlling play and being the favored and undefeated team coming into the weekend. The Buckeyes probably are probably losing their ranking next week.

Matt Tomkins again got the start between the pipes despite imploding on Friday and wasn’t much better on Saturday. Robert Morris only had 27 shots and 46 46 shot attempts but still generated four goals against a more talented team that had limited goals against and scoring chances so far this year fairly adequately.

Ohio State, on the other hand, had 67 shot attempts and 42 shots and, based off those stats, predictably, found a way to put four in. Four goals on 42 shots is a pretty normal offensive performance for this team, but goaltending this poor isn’t going to win you too many games against anybody.

Ohio State’s dominance in shots and attempts is made even more impressive by the fact that the team jumped out to an early multiple goal lead and got to sit on that lead and lay back and not push the offensive envelope as much. Kevin Miller scored his second of the season just 2:59 in, with helpers from Josh Healey and Brendon Kearney.

Dakota Joshua doubled that lead by finally breaking through for his first of the year at 7:26 from Freddy Gerard and Kearney once again. Daniel Leavens got one back for RMU at 15:21 with his first of the year and, with that, Robert Morris found a way to at least generate some momentum going into intermission.

They’d capitalize on it just 2:29 into the second when Matthew Graham tied the score at two-all. But just 3:18 later, Ohio State turned that momentum right back around and started pushing the envelope once again as John Wiitala scored his fifth of the year at 5:47. Healey and Joshua gained multiple point nights with the assists on the tally.

Wiitala scored again, this time on the powerplay, at 10:52 of the second as Joshua scored his third point of the night on the primary assist. Mason Jobst was credited with the secondary assist. That gave OSU a 4-2 lead and it sure looked like Ohio State had this one all wrapped up against an inferior team.

Then Robert Morris got another momentum boost before the intermission. Luke Lynch was awarded a penalty shot after being interfered with by Janik Moser on a breakaway and converted for his first NCAA goal. The Bucks were still up one goal headed into intermission but RMU again felt way too good about things headed into the break.

Ohio State held that 4-3 lead for almost exactly 34 of the third, before Lynch again came to haunt OSU. Despite Leavens being sent off for hooking, Lynch capitalized on the shorthanded opportunity and tied it up at four apiece. It just wasn’t the Buckeyes’ night.

And that’d be the score headed into overtime but something finally-FINALLY-went the Buckeyes’ way as RMU’s Timmy Moore was sent off with a game misconduct and major penalty for checking from behind. A five minute major penalty in a five minute overtime sounds almost too good to be true. It was.

Ohio State just couldn’t convert. OSU would have seven shot attempts to RMU’s three in the period, and that just isn’t good enough for having a man advantage when you’re, on paper at least and this season, so much better than the competition. That’s not far off from the difference in attempts for the entire game. And that’s just not good enough for having a major powerplay.

Unfortunately, they would only get three of those five minutes. Tanner Laczynski, possibly Ohio State’s best player this year, was caught with an interference call with 1:28 left in OT and that was that. The game would end tied 4-4.

Nick Schilkey was held off the scoreboard. Laczynski was held off the scoreboard and ended the powerplay in OT. David Gust was nowhere to be seen. Tomkins played poorly. But when Joshua, Healey and Wiitala put up multi-point performances, you should win. And the Bucks didn’t.

Ohio State will be favored again next weekend and will hope to get back on track when they host UConn at the Schottenstein Center.