The Ohio State men’s hockey team will enter the Big Ten tournament with a seven-game unbeaten run after a win and a tie at Michigan State over the weekend.
Friday’s match ended in a 6-5 overtime victory for the Buckeyes. The next day’s contest ended as a 1-1 draw, with the Spartans coming out on top in the ensuing shootout.
The first half of Friday’s game had plenty of shots from both sides, but the first period ended with Michigan State (10-22-3, 6-12-1) leading courtesy of senior forward Ryan Keller’s goal on a counterattack.
The floodgates opened during the second period.
Junior forward David Gust equalized for the Buckeyes (13-17-3, 8-8-3) just over two minutes into the period. A centered pass from fellow junior forward Nick Schilkey found Gust at the far post, and Michigan State senior goaltender Jake Hildebrand could not react to the play in time.
Three minutes later, the Spartans grabbed the lead once again with a goal from junior forward Mackenzie MacEachern. A long shot from senior defenseman Travis Walsh was deflected into the path of MacEachern, and he put it home.
But the Buckeyes responded extremely rapidly once again.
Just 26 seconds later, freshman forward Luke Stork slotted past Hildebrand on a breakaway for his sixth goal of the season to tie it up 2-2.
The Spartans got another fortunate break when their freshman defenseman Zach Osburn’s shot hit the crossbar and junior forward J.T. Stenglein collected the rebound and put it past OSU goaltender Christian Frey.
The Scarlet and Gray were not fazed at all, though, and equalized once again, this time with a miscue by the Michigan State defense. A Spartan defender slipped attempting to halt a Buckeye fast break and took out Hildebrand in the process. This allowed senior forward and co-captain Anthony Greco to make it 3-3. The Buckeyes finished the period with the lead after Gust scored his second goal of the day.
Michigan State senior forward Matt DeBlouw tied it up at four apiece to open the scoring in the third period at the 4:05 mark. But freshman forward Brendon Kearney restored the Buckeye lead a little over two minutes later.
Later, Spartans coach Tom Anastos elected to pull Hildebrand from goal in favor of an extra attacker in the dying seconds of the match. The move paid off, as junior forward Joe Cox leveled the score with 1.6 seconds left in regulation.
The Buckeyes yet again found a late winner. With fewer than 30 seconds remaining in overtime, a rush from freshman forward Freddy Gerard and Schilkey allowed sophomore forward Matthew Weis a shot on goal. The goal was originally called off, but it was later confirmed after replays showed the puck had indeed crossed the goal line.
The Spartans opened the scoring once again in Saturday’s encounter thanks to junior forward Thomas Ebbing’s goal. Osburn appeared to double the Michigan State lead, but the goal was called off after it was found that a Spartan forward was in the crease.
Freshman forward Mason Jobst would then later tie it up for the Buckeyes with a nice solo effort that evaded three Spartan defenders.
The second period was goalless, but not without its own action. Kearney and Keller were each penalized for roughing after the whistle.
The third period and overtime also came and went without a goal, meaning the Big Ten point would be decided by shootout. Cox netted the sole goal in the shootout, giving the home team the extra point.
The two squads are now scheduled to meet again on Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. There are bigger stakes than just points in the standings this time, as well, as the matchup is part of the opening round of the Big Ten tournament. The Buckeyes occupy the fourth seed in the Big Ten, while Michigan State is fifth. The puck is scheduled to drop at 8:30 p.m.