Following Ohio State’s women’s hockey team’s run to the NCAA Championship Game, now it is the Buckeye men’s team’s turn to try and advance to the Frozen Four. After losing to Michigan a couple weeks ago, Ohio State was awarded an at-large berth to this year’s tournament when the brackets were revealed on Sunday.
The last time Ohio State was on the ice was nearly two weeks ago in Ann Arbor. The battle with the Wolverines was one the Buckeyes would like to forget. Michigan scored 23 seconds into the Big Ten Tournament semifinal, and the Wolverines added two more goals in the first half of the first period to jump out to a 3-0 lead by the 10:27 mark.
The Buckeyes got on the board 11:43 into the second period when Jake Wise scored a power play goal. Ohio State wasn’t able to build any more momentum though, as Michigan restored their three-goal lead six minutes later. Travis Treloar added a power play goal early in the third period, and Cam Thiesing netted a goal when Ohio State pulled their goalie with less than five minutes left in the game. The Wolverines scored two empty net goals to round out the 7-3 victory.
Ohio State will now head to Bridgeport, Connecticut as a No. 3 seed. This marks the 10th NCAA Tournament appearance for the Buckeyes, with their last tournament berth coming back in 2019, when they were shutout by Denver 2-0 in the first round. The Buckeyes have advanced to two Frozen Fours, with those appearances coming in 1998 and 2018.
Squaring off with the Buckeyes on Friday is the Harvard Crimson. The schools have only met once before, with Ohio State winning the lone previous matchup 4-2 in December 2008 in Columbus at the Ohio Hockey Classic. The Buckeyes did take on another team from the ECAC in the first game of their Frozen Four run in 2018 when they defeated Princeton.
Harvard is making their 27th trip to the NCAA Tournament. With 13 Frozen Four appearances, nearly half of their trips to the NCAA Tournament have seen the Crimson advance to the Frozen Four. The last Frozen Four appearance for Harvard was in 2017. Of all of those runs to the Frozen Four, the Crimson have only won one NCAA title, which came back in 1989 when current head coach Ted Donato was a member of the Harvard team.
Like Ohio State, Harvard earned an at-large bid to this year’s tournament. After beating Princeton and Cornell to get to the ECAC Hockey Championship, the Crimson were defeated 3-2 by Colgate. The Raiders scored two goals in the first 12:47 of the game to put Harvard in a hole they weren’t able to dig out of. Matthew Coronato’s power play goal at the 12:55 mark of the third cut the deficit to 3-2, but would be the last goal scored in the game.
The Crimson are the only team in the country that has three 20-goal scorers this season. Alex Laferriere notched a team-high 21 goals, while Sean Farrell and Coronato both netted 20 tallies. The trio scored nearly half of the 124 goals Harvard potted this season. Farrell enters the NCAA Tournament as Harvard’s overall scoring leader this year, as he dished out 32 assists.
While Harvard has three players that do most of the scoring, Ohio State has had a bunch of players chip in to score their 122 goals this year. Davis Burnside has a team-high 14 goals this year. Four other Buckeyes has scored at least 10 goals over the 38 games Ohio State has played so far this year. Cam Thiesing has 13 goals on the season, Jake Wise has scored 12 times, and Tate Singleton and Joe Dunlap each have 11 goals.
Trying to slow down the Ohio State offensive attach is Harvard goalie Mitchell Gibson, who has started 26 of the 33 games played by the Crimson this year. Gibson is 18-6-2 with three shutouts, a 2.05 goals against average, and a .925 save percentage. Countering Gibson between this pipes for Ohio State is Jakub Dobes, who was named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention this year after posting a 20-15-3 record with three shutouts, a 2.33 goals against average, and a .918 save percentage.
Both teams have shown they can play great all-around hockey at times this year. Ohio State is in the top-17 in the country in scoring, scoring defense, and on the power play, converting 22.4 percent of the time when they have a man-advantage. What is likely going to decide the game is if the Buckeyes can continue to be stingy when their opponent goes on the power play. Ohio State leads the country when on the penalty kill, not only killing off 89.5 percent of the penalties they commit, but the Buckeyes have also scored 10 shorthanded goals this season.
The winner of Friday’s game between Ohio State and Harvard will go on to battle the winner of the game between Quinnipiac and Merrimack, which will take place after the Buckeyes and Crimson play. Quinnipiac enters the NCAA Tournament as the number two overall seed in the tournament. The Northeast Regional Final will take place on Sunday afternoon.
Time: 2:00 p.m. ET