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No. 15 Ohio State hockey completes sweep of No. 7 Minnesota with 4-1 victory

The game was tied at 1-1 late into the third before the Buckeyes scored three in the last 5:13.

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

No matter how you do it or what process it entailed, a sweep over the No. 7 team in the country is one you’ll take whether you’re winless or ranked No. 1. Ohio State found a way to do just that with its second win over No. 7 Minnesota in Columbus. This time, it was a 4-1 victory.

The game was tied at 1-1 with just over five minutes left in the third period before a seemingly innocuous point shot off a faceoff win by Matt Miller beat Mat Robson and turned out to be the game winning goal.

Make no mistake: Ohio State was not the better team tonight. They outshot the Gophers 14-8 in the first and gained a 1-0 lead to show for it, but after that, they were absolutely manhandled possession wise by a more talented team. But sometimes you don’t play your best and yet find a way to win.

Mason Jobst scored that first goal for Ohio State to put the Bucks up 1-0, at 16:54 of the first. John Wiitala and Tommy Parran had the assists on Mason’s eighth of the year. A strong Ohio State forecheck at the top of the Minnesota zone forced a puck free, where Wiitala got it down low to Jobst, who walked to the front of the net with a 2-on-1. With the defender playing the pass, Jobst walked in and beat Robson.

Minnesota would respond in a big way in the second and third period, however. The Gophers outshot the Buckeyes 13-3 in the second and 13-7 in the third. But they’d only find a way to get one past Sean Romeo, who again provided a big boost to a relatively undermanned Ohio State team.

Goalies can be the equalizers between more and less talented teams, and Romeo has been better than both Robson and Eric Schierhorn in this weekend series, stopping 66/68 shots for a ridiculous .971 save percentage.

Minnesota would get that one, though, late in the second as Brent Gates beat Romeo with 13:54 left in the second. But that’d be all the Golden Gophers would get.

Minnesota ran over the Buckeyes in the third as well; it wasn’t to the same extent as in the second with Ohio State not sitting back to the same degree in a time game, but it was still a bulldozing. The shots were 13-7 and it sure seemed as though the game was trending in Minnesota’s direction once they tied it.

Then Matt Miller won the battle of the Mat(t)’s and won it for the good guys with double T’s.

Weis won the faceoff back and gained the lone assist on Miller’s third of the year at 14:47 of the third.

That marker would prove to be the difference in the game, but Ohio State wasn’t done.

Tanner Laczynski scored his eighth of the year on an empty net shot from the neutral zone to make it 3-1. Jobst and Dakota Joshua were on to prevent a Gopher goal and gained the assists on the goal with 1:12 left.

Jobst would add his second of the night for OSU’s second empty netter to make it 4-1 and completely salt this one away. He shot it from shy of the red line with a defenseman in his face but hit the twine nonetheless. Weis and Laczynski had the assists on Mason’s ninth of the year at 19:45.

A close game that looked headed for overtime if Ohio State was lucky turned into a multiple goal victory over the No. 7 team in the country. Even if Ohio State got run over for nearly two periods and couldn’t stem Minnesota’s comeback, they got the win and then added two goals for good measure.

That’s a pretty nice way to cap the first half of Ohio State’s season. The team will be back in action on Dec. 29 in Columbus, as the 10-4-4 Buckeyes host Niagara.