Just when you think Ohio State is coming back down to earth after struggling with Michigan, they go and beat the No. 5/4 team in the country. No. 12/13 Ohio State hockey found a way to take down No. 5/4 Minnesota on Friday night in Columbus with the help of two third period goals and a solid performance from Matt Tomkins in net.
With the win, the Buckeyes get back to .500 in conference play and are now 14-7-6 overall, while Minnesota falls to 8-3 in Big Ten play and 17-8-2 overall. This was a big win for OSU and showed they could take down anyone in conference, if their Penn State split in January didn’t already prove that.
In the first period, shots were 10-10, but it was all Buckeyes on the scoreboard. At 7:58, super freshman Tanner Laczynski found Matthew Weis at the far post, where he stuffed it in for his eighth of the year.
At 16:55, Nick Schilkey may have scored the OSU goal of the year. Carrying the puck into the offensive zone, he completely froze and spun around a Minnesota defender before going around him and going top shelf on Golden Gopher goalie Eric Schierhorn. His 21st came from Mason Jobst, extending his point streak to 13, and Sasha Larocque.
The second period, on the other hand, would be nearly all Minnesota. Brent Gates cut the lead in half just 46 seconds into the second, on the powerplay, with his 13th of the year. Rem Pitlick tied it at 4:09 on a breakaway and Vinni Lettieri gave Minnesota their first lead of the game at 10:15.
OSU did have one shining moment in the second, as they apparently didn’t like falling behind. Kevin Miller scored his sixth of the year just 49 seconds after Lettieri put Minnesota up for the first time. Brendon Kearney fed Miller in the middle of the offensive zone, and he used a defender to screen Schierhorn and tie the game. Josh Healey had the secondary assist, his 15th of the year.
Minnesota dominated in the second when they needed to and outshot the Puckeyes 14-9. Ohio State has had trouble attacking when up this season, but it’s hard to fault them when they’re playing the No. 5/4 team and they were up by multiple goals, at least in terms of giving up opportunities. Falling behind when up multiple goals, however, is not ideal.
The third period would have the pendulum swing back in favor of Ohio State, as they’d once again score two goals just as in the first. Jobst scored his 13th of the year just 3:47 in, on the powerplay. Schilkey fed him at the right faceoff circle on the man advantage and he just blasted it into Schierhorn and it found its way into the net. Dakota Joshua looked like he deflected it, but it was already in the net by the time his stick found it. Jobst received the credit for the goal ultimately and David Gust had the secondary assist.
Either way, the Buckeyes were back on top. The game would stay at 4-3 in favor of OSU for the next ten plus minutes, before Tanner Laczynski gave Ohio State a two goal cushion they would need in the end. At 4-on-4, Weis fed Larocque, who carried it across the blue line. He essentially ran a pick play with the defenders, feeding Laczynski as he went in the opposite direction, giving him enough room in the slot to fire in what would turn out to be the game winning goal.
Minnesota got one back exactly three minutes later, as Justin Kloos scored his 13th of the year, but that would be all that the Gophers would get. They had the man advantage from pulling Schierhorn and looked to keep that advantage to tie the game, before a penalty by Leon Bristedt for charging at 18:34 ended that advantage and most of the Minnesota hopes for tying the game up.
They kept the empty net to keep it even strength and forced two shots on Tomkins, but he kept them out and OSU held on for the 5-4 victory.
The two teams will skate again on Saturday night at 8pm in Columbus. The Buckeyes will look to gain the sweep over one of the traditional conference titans and gain ground on them in the Big Ten standings.