Minnesota is the Big Ten’s traditional hockey power. Ohio State is an upstart off to a fantastic 8-1-4 start this year. Both are just on the border or in the top ten depending on the poll. Minnesota put the Buckeyes in their place last night.
The Ohio State mens hockey team was outshot, outplayed and dominated when it mattered most en route to only their second non-shootout loss of the season.
The goaltending would be the biggest issue for the Buckeyes on this night, where it’s been plus for most of the season. Matt Tomkins has had a solid if unspectacular season in his senior campaign so far coming into the Big Ten opener at Minnesota, but things did, uh, not go too swell for him last night.
The senior goaltender allowed four goals while playing only 25:08 and did not make a single save in the second period. This wasn’t quite Patrick Lalime versus the Maple Leafs in the playoffs bad, but it wasn’t too far off either. And when you get that kind of effort versus the most talented team in the conference, there’s really not much you can do as a team no matter how well your season’s start has been.
Ohio State did actually strike first in this one, as Kevin Miller was credited for an unassisted goal at 6:31 of the first when an errant clearing attempt by Minnesota’s Ryan Lindgren deflected off a teammate and found a way into the net. That’d be the only lead Ohio State would have all night, however.
Ryan Collins evened it up for Minnesota at 15:49 of the first and Leon Bristedt gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish at 19:26, shorthanded. After Tanner Laczynski missed an open shot attempt on the powerplay, Minnesota pushed down the other end and put one in past Tomkins for the lead with just 34 seconds left in the first. It was a blow OSU couldn’t recover from.
Minnesota would score on their first shot on goal of the second, as Bristedt scored his second of the game, this one on the powerplay, at 4:19. Tyler Sheehy would score on Minnesota’s second shot on goal of the second at 5:10 to make it 4-1 Gophers.
That’d be it for Tomkins, and Christian Frey would recapture some of his magic in upsetting Minnesota in the Big Ten conference tournament almost three years ago, allowing only one more goal, but it wasn’t enough.
Miguel Fidler would trim the lead to 4-2 just 17 seconds after Sheehy’s goal. It was his first of the year, from Drew Brevig and David Gust. Gust himself would trim the lead to 4-3 Minnesota just under ten minutes later, at 14:15, on the powerplay, with his ninth of the year. Dakota Joshua and Josh Healey both recorded their twelfth helpers of the year on Gust’s tally.
But that’d be as close as Ohio State would get. Eric Schierhorn would stop all six Ohio State shots in the third period, but Christian Frey couldn’t match him. He stopped 16/17 on the night, but Minnesota put it away as Sheehy scored again at 11:47 of the third to make it 5-3 Gophers.
Ohio State was overwhelmed in the third period when they should’ve been putting the pressure on Minnesota down one goal. But the Bucks were outshot 9-6 in that third period and just didn’t have much of a shot. They only put 21 shots on goal for the entire game and couldn’t put together a quality period when the game was there for the taking with how Frey played after coming in.
That period may most truly show what caliber of team Ohio State really is. They beat Denver this season and have done as well as reasonably possible with an 8-1-4 start before this defeat, but when it mattered most in the biggest show-me game of the year, they couldn’t muster more than six shots on goal in a period.
We’ll see if the Buckeyes can rebound against the Gophers on Saturday night when the two teams play once again at 8pm eastern at Minnesota.