Late in the third period of Thursday’s game, Ohio State men’s hockey junior forward Tyler Lundey hopped over the boards and onto the ice.
The Buckeyes’ extra attacker cut his team’s deficit to 3-1 with 2:33 remaining, but the goal did little more than prove OSU’s ever-apparent inconsistency.
“I certainly see some mistakes that are becoming too much of an every game appearance for us,” OSU coach Steve Rohlik said. “It’s not an X’s and O thing, it’s a matter of understanding.”
Following a flurry of offensive activity, the Buckeyes (3-7-1, 0-1-0) lost, 3-1, at home against Michigan State in its first Big Ten matchup of the season.
OSU’s desperation play revealed that its non-desperation play, which lasted for the greater portion of the third period, was a factor in the loss.
“I think the attitude of playing desperate has to be there from the start,” Rohlik said. “That’s something you can control and that’s something that our guys have a build on.”
OSU opened the game with a quick few shifts, but fell into a familiar hole at the 12:03 mark of the first period when Michigan State freshman defenseman Carson Gatt’s shot from the left wing boards yielded a rebound between the faceoff circles for sophomore forward Villiam Haag.
Haag’s goal marked the eighth time this season OSU allowed the first goal of the game and was the Spartans’ first of two clean scoring opportunities of the opening period.
Michigan State’s next opportunity came later in the period when the Spartans’ top line forced OSU sophomore goalie Matt Tomkins to make a couple consecutive sprawling saves.
MSU carried a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, but couldn’t find an equalizer in the second period. The Buckeyes, as would be the theme in the game, had trouble managing second-chance scoring opportunities.
“We got in there and their goaltender made the saves,” Rohlik said. “Its up to our guys to create second and third chances and if you’re not willing to pay the price…you’re probably going to have that chance.”
Following Buckeye sophomore defenseman Josh Healey’s hooking penalty about five minutes into the second, Michigan State capitalized on the first power play of the game.
Spartan senior forward Matt Berry’s wrist shot from the left faceoff circle beat Tomkins on the glove side and made it 2-0.
The Buckeyes’ response was promising as they outshot the Spartans 13-8 in the period and took a 19-16 shot advantage in the game going into the final period.
“I think we knew we were capable of coming back into the game,” sophomore defenseman Drew Brevig said. “It just didn’t work out for us tonight.”
Part of OSU’s improved play was a result of their defensive adjustments that prevented Michigan State from connecting rink-wide passes across the Buckeyes’ goal.
OSU also made substantial improvements to their team-discipline as they took only four penalty minutes compared to the 14 penalty minutes they took last Saturday against Bowling Green.
The third period zapped any post intermission energy OSU had accumulated. Michigan State’s goal early in the third period put the Buckeyes down 3-0 and seemed to flatline the team with only one win in seven home games.
“We’re trying to stay positive,” OSU senior forward Darik Angeli said. “We’re going to turn our season around.”
The Buckeyes are set to face the Spartans on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.
- OSU freshman forward Matt Weis (upper-body) did not play on Friday. Rohlik said he was day-to-day after the game.
- The Buckeyes led 31-23 in the faceoff circle.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that OSU led 1-0 after the first intermission when in fact it was MSU that lead after the first period.