If you told me before the season that Ohio State hockey would make the NCAA Tournament and be ranked in the top 15 for most of the season, I would’ve thought you were off your meds. They shockingly did both of those things, but even with all that goodwill gained, a loss like this still stings.
Ohio State hockey took No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth to overtime in the West Regional semifinal of the NCAA Tournament but fell, 3-2. UMD scored two goals in the second period to give themselves a seemingly insurmountable lead before Ohio State tied it up on third period goals within 5:31 of each other from Matt Joyaux and Gordi Myer.
But as the most talented teams tend to do on average, Minnesota-Duluth found a way to prevail in overtime despite Ohio State attacking like they rarely have this season and playing to their offensive potential.
The first period was scoreless, but the Buckeyes showed they could play with these guys. They outshot the Bulldogs 9-6 in the first, with Matt Tomkins stopping all the UMD attempts. Ohio State appeared to take the lead on a powerplay goal in the last few minutes of the first period, but it was waved off as the referees determined the puck didn’t fully cross the goal line and the teams went to the locker room tied at zero.
UMD did not like that score as they came out firing in the second and took the lead just 49 seconds into the frame on a goal from Dominic “Not Toretto” Toninato. The Bulldogs appeared to score again just under four minutes later, but the puck was ruled to have not fully crossed the line before the net came off its moorings.
Nick Wolff would score at 13:41 with only his second of the year and make it 2-0 UMD. It slithered its way through traffic in front of Tomkins and found its way in to give the Bulldogs the 2-0 lead that they would maintain heading into the second intermission.
In between the two UMD goals, Tomkins made one of the best saves you’re ever going to see, off the knob of his stick, that OSU would need to ultimately get the game tied up:
That is just RIDICULOUS! pic.twitter.com/GDHI1GDu2N— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) March 25, 2017
Tomkins didn’t allow another goal during the rest of regulation after allowing Minnesota-Duluth’s second and gave Ohio State a chance to tie it up, which they would from some unlikely sources.
At 7:09 of the third period, Dakota Joshua got the puck to Kevin Miller who hit a breaking Matt Joyaux between the faceoff circles. Joyaux buried it and got OSU within one. It was just his third of the season but came at about as important a time as possible.
Another Buckeye would decide to score his first career collegiate goal with his team down one in the last ten minutes of an NCAA Tournament game. The Cleveland product took a feed at the top of the right circle from Tanner Laczynski and put it home to tie the game at 12:40 of the third period.
The Buckeyes dominated that third period, outshooting UMD 13-6 in the frame and carrying play throughout. They didn’t get that third goal to win it even with the momentum, but it’s hard to argue with two goals to tie up a game against the No. 2 team in the country.
In overtime, OSU would continue to carry the play, outshooting the Bulldogs 9-7 and 42-32 overall for the game. But they couldn’t hold off such a talented team forever, as Willie Raskob scored his fourth of the season and UMD’s first since the first period on a one timer at 11:58 of the first overtime to send Minnesota-Duluth to the next round and Ohio State home for the season.
Ohio State played about as well an attacking game as they had since the early season. They outshot and carried play against the No. 2 seeded team and got goals from the unlikeliest of sources. Nick Schilkey only had one shot on goal in his final collegiate game. Mason Jobst had five but had no points and was a -2. It’s hard to beat arguably the best team in the country with off nights from your two best players, but Ohio State almost did it.
On many nights, if the game was played exactly as it was tonight, Ohio State could have and would have won. Tonight just wasn’t one of those nights. The Buckeyes played their hearts out even without Josh Healey on the backend due to a suspension, but in their final games, Schilkey, Tomkins and the other seniors went playing as well as they could.
It just wasn’t enough tonight.