The No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes blew through the Michigan State Spartans, 6-2, to take Game 1 of their best-of-three series in the quarterfinals stage of the Big Ten Tournament.
The biggest advantage of finishing No. 2 in the Big Ten versus No. 3 was avoiding previously ranked Wisconsin in the first round. Michigan State is the consensus least talented team in the conference and Ohio State did what it was supposed to do on Friday night.
This one didn’t become the easy win it turned out to be early, however. The game would be tied at one apiece until there were under four minutes remaining in the second period. From thereon, Ohio State scored four consecutive goals and moved to within a game of advancing to the next round of the conference tournament.
Tanner Laczynski opened this one up for Ohio State, as he took a pass from Wyatt Ege on the powerplay and shot one in from the top of the right circle. The puck bounced around in front and somehow found its way in, with Laczynski credited with the score. It was anything but clean, but hey, still counts.
GOAL @OhioState_MHKY!! Laczynski rips one home early in the power play to put the Buckeyes up 1-0 in the first! pic.twitter.com/jhTm8nfFCs— BTN Student U (@BTNStudentU) March 3, 2018
(I wouldn’t call that ripping one home, but to each their own I guess.)
Shots were 11-5 Ohio State in the first and it looked like OSU would assert themselves in this one. But Michigan State tied it up just 3:12 into the second as Patrick Khodorenko put one past Sean Romeo on a bizarre broken play involving an in place spinorama. But that’d be it for MSU on the night. There’d be no Zack Snyder sepia-infused stand in this one.
Matthew Weis would score what would turn out to be the game winner at 16:32 of the second on a pass from Laczynski, and, suddenly, OSU was up 2-1 heading into the second intermission.
The third period would be a parade of Ohio State goals. Mason Jobst would be the first, scoring at 1:54 of the third, with assists going to Tommy Parran and Matt Joyaux. He redirected a shot from Parran and OSU was up 3-1.
Sasha Larocque would then increase the OSU lead to three goals. He scored on a shot from the point, with assists going to Luke Stork and Sam McCormick at 6:36. John Wiitala really put this one on ice, as he scored to make it 5-1 in favor of Ohio State at 15:40 of the third, putting in a Brendon Kearney rebound.
With 4:20 left after the Wiitala goal, OSU was ready to blaze right through the green of Michigan State. Michigan State would add a goal to make it 5-2 with 1:22 left, but by that time, it was over. Christian Lampasso added a powerplay goal with one second left to finish this one off, as if there was any doubt at 19:59 of the third.
This one went pretty much according to script for the Buckeyes. They outshot the Spartans, they outscored the Spartans and ultimately won a game they’re supposed to win. They’ve given themselves two chances to close out this first round series and move onto the second round. A Big Ten tournament title is a real possibility this year and the Buckeyes started with a solid first step.