Michigan State channeled their namesake and fought to defend their arena like the Spartans at Thermopylae, but this time around, they didn’t have Themistocles to bail them out, as the invading Ohio State Buckeyes men’s hockey team defeated Michigan State, 5-3.
The No. 8 Buckeyes didn’t quite roll over the Spartans with the same ease that they did on Friday night, where the game was effectively over a minute into the second period. The Spartans did more to fight back on Saturday, but Ohio State showed why they’re ranked No. 8 and went up three before giving up a late goal to MSU.
At one point, though, Michigan State actually got the lead in this one. Mitch Lewandowski scored first, just 7:14 into the game. That’d be the only lead they’d get, however, and it wouldn’t last long.
Ohio State scored twice within 17 seconds later in the first, with goals at 13:59 and 14:16 by Matthew Weis and Dakota Joshua, respectively.
On Weis’ goal, Tanner Laczynski, of course, had the primary assist as he threw it on net from the right faceoff circle. The puck somehow found the stick of Matthew Weis in front of MSU goalie Ed Minney, who sounds an ironically named large man wrestler, and put it in.
Just 17 seconds later, Joshua found a way to put it in off a deflection from a Matt Joyaux shot. Brendon Kearney somehow redirected it to Joshua and it somehow beat Minney. Pretty hard to stop that, if I do say so myself, as a former awful broomball goalie who allowed 11 goals in a playoff game. (The team, uh, didn’t invite me back this year.)
OSU outshot the Spartans 12-5 in the first and looked like they were on their way to another easy victory, before Michigan State put up their best effort and clogged the pass to a sweep.
They outshot the Buckeyes 9-6 in the second and scored the period’s only goal. Sam Saliba scored on a powerplay due to a Kevin Miller infraction for boarding at 3:34. Just 4:29 into the second and it was tied once again.
Ohio State apparently got sick of that and decided the third period wasn’t going to be one the Spartans wanted to remember.
John Wiitala scored 4:10 into the third with the teams playing 4-on-4 hockey, just seconds before the start of an MSU powerplay. Carson Gatt took a penalty to give OSU a powerplay, but Ronnie Hein took an unfortunate high sticking call 1:10 into the OSU man advantage. But then Wiitala struck.
Matt Joyaux hit Wiitala on one knee and hre one timed a shot past Minney and into the net for his sixth of the year. It was beautiful.
Just under seven minutes later, Joshua would put in his second of the game, unassisted and off a a faceoff win. Then Freddy Gerard really put it away 1:52 after that with his fifth of the year off a pass from Weis out of the left corner. He hit a streaking Gerard in front of the net on a one timer. Gerard had time to wind up and a slap shot from that close isn’t going to be stopped too often.
Tanner Laczynski had the secondary assist on the goal, his second helper of the night, and this one was pretty much put away.
Saliba would score his second of the game for MSU 36 seconds after Gerard’s goal to narrow it to a two goal deficit once again, but that’d be as close as the Spartans would get.
Ohio State showed why they’re a top-10 team once again, pouring it on the to the tune of 13 shots in the third period and three goals. Michigan State didn’t have an answer till it was already out of hand and then never got any closer.
The Buckeyes will be put to a harder test next weekend as they travel to State College for a weekend series with No. 14 Penn State, who swept the Buckeyes in Columbus in December. OSU hasn’t lost a game since then and hope to return the favor next weekend to the Nittany Lions.