Ohio State needed a win tonight to gain a leg up on Wisconsin for an NCAA tournament at large bid and to clinch the number three seed in the Big Ten tournament and avoid Michigan in round one. They did both and completed the weekend sweep in Madison, beating the No. 16 Wisconsin Badgers 3-1 on Saturday night.
Matt Tomkins put together another stellar performance in net, allowing only one goal en route to the 3-1 victory. He stopped 27 out of 28 shots on goal and didn’t allow that one goal until Ohio State was already up three with under ten minutes to go in regulation.
Mason Jobst officially went over the fifty point mark on the season as he scored the game’s opening goal and then assisted on Brendon Kearney’s insurance shorthander in the third period. He’s unquestionably been Ohio State’s MVP this season with Nick Schilkey battling through injuries and Tanner Laczynski tailing off post-World Juniors.
OSU also showcased more attacking behavior in this one, a welcomed sight, outshooting the Badgers in both the first and second periods, 10-7 and 13-11 respectively. They were outshot 10-5 in the third, but when you’re up three goals and the game’s likely over, it’s more excusable than starting it when you’re just up one or two goals as the Buckeyes seem to do too often.
Ohio State never trailed for a second in this one, as Jobst started off the scoring in the first period as he sniped one from the faceoff circle and then went flying right after getting it off. He became the first Buckeye since R.J. Umberger in 2003 to put up 50 points in a season. The powerplay goal came on a feed from Tomkins, who had the lone assist.
Kevin Miller scored his 11th of the year in the second to make it 2-1 in favor of the No. 15 Buckeyes. David Gust fed Dakota Joshua who sent it back across the ice for Miller who shot it home. But even that tic-tac-toe goal wouldn’t be Ohio State’s prettiest on the night.
At 17:39 of the second, Ohio State was shorthanded as Matt Joyaux was in the penalty box for goalie interference, and Jobst, from the neutral zone, skipped a pass like a rock on a pond to a streaking Brendon Kearney on a breakaway, who then found some space and hit the back of the net. Sasha Larocque had the secondary assist on Kearney’s second of the year.
That would be all Matt Tomkins would need. Aside from allowing a third period goal to Luke Kunin at 11:37, Tomkins’ record was sparkling on the night. He eliminated any chance of fellow senior Christian Frey taking back the starting job for the conference tournament with another +.900 save percentage night. And hardly anyone can stop Kunin, who now has 21 goals on the year anyway. Not quite Schilkey, but who is?
If you told me going into this weekend that Ohio State would get virtually nothing on the scoresheet from Nick Schilkey and Tanner Laczynski and still Ohio State would sweep the Badgers, I would’ve had you committed to Clockworks Psychiatric Hospital.
But Matt Tomkins turned into Patrick Roy all of a sudden and Mason Jobst turned into Wayne Gretzky out here and when that happens, you can beat pretty much anyone.
The Buckeyes will have their second and most important season start on Thursday when they play Michigan State in Detroit. The Spartans finished only 3-14-2 in conference, so Ohio State will be heavily favored, but one of those three wins came against your Buckeyes.
If Ohio State loses, they suffer a tremendous blow for their at large chances. If they win, they’ll play Wisconsin again in what could essentially be a play in game for the NCAAs. And OSU sure showed it could beat the Badgers this weekend.