Ohio State athletics and shutouts just seem to go together like peanut butter and chocolate lately. But unlike the football team, the No. 11 Ohio State mens hockey team was the one blanking their opponent with the 3-0 victory over No. 2 Penn State Friday night in Columbus.
Penn State, since the inception of the program, has been known to fire shots on goal at any chance they get. They’ve had higher possession numbers than their records would indicate because of that, but this was the first year their record and talent matched those gaudy possession numbers.
The Nittany Lions lead the nation in Corsi for percentage at even strength, overall, on the powerplay and in “close” situations. Close and on the powerplay are barely, if ever, used but hey, it helps make my point. And that point is that the Nittany Lions put shots on net, whether they’re good or not. It’s what they do.
So it’s no surprise they put up 46 on Christian Frey and Ohio State in this one. Penn State has been the surprise of the season and looked like the Big Ten favorites going into conference play. A Frozen Four is hardly out of the question. Unless they have to play Christian Frey, apparently.
His save percentage jumped all the way to .905 after this one. And the Nittany Lions came out hot in the first. They put up 16 shots to Ohio State’s eight, but only one found the back of the net.
Drew Brevig scored his long awaited first of the year at 17:45 to give Ohio State that 1-0 lead. His first would stand as the game winner, ultimately, and was assisted by Gordi Myer and Brendon Kearney. Not exactly a trio of offensive dynamos.
The second period would be nearly the same story, with Penn State winning the possession battle and Ohio State scoring a late goal to take the momentum into the dressing room. It was a closer one in the second, with PSU only outshooting OSU 13-10. But Luke Stork’s fifth of the year at 19:33 made it the same story as the first regardless. Mason Jobst and Kearney had the two assists.
The third would be nearly identical as well in terms of score, at least. Ohio State went into a giant defensive shell against a team that shoots from anywhere. That doesn’t seem wise and probably isn’t a great strategy for Saturday night if they get the chance to enact it, but hey, it worked on Friday.
Shots were 17-3 in favor of Penn State in that third period, but they still couldn’t get one past Frey. John Wiitala would score in the empty net at 18:16 to put this one (even more) on ice. His seventh of the year was assisted by Kearney and Stork.
Penn State outshot Ohio State 46-21. Nick Schilkey and David Gust were held off the scoresheet. Tanner Laczynski is probably still staring at his gold medal. But Ohio State’s unheralded forwards like Wiitala and Stork as well as a senior defenseman without a goal on the year coming in sunk the No. 2 Nittany Lions.
Hockey is a weird sport and Ohio State will try again to get weird on Saturday night when they host the No. 2 Nittany Lions in Columbus once again at 8pm.