Facing two-goal deficits in two consecutive games, No. 14 Ohio State (6-1-4) bounced back with five unanswered goals on Friday night to beat Connecticut (3-3-5) 7-4. Then on Saturday, OSU’s attempt at a weekend sweep was faulted by Huskies senior goaltender Rob Nichols, as the teams settled for a 3-3 tie.
The bounce-back performance was needed for coach Steve Rohlik and company after a loss and a tie to unranked Robert Morris University last weekend in a home-and-home affair.
In Friday night’s contest, OSU trailed UConn 4-2 with 6:37 remaining in the second period before the Buckeyes scored three goals in a span of one minute and 32 seconds from senior forward David Gust, sophomore forward Mason Jobst and senior forward captain Nick Schilkey. The Scarlet and Gray held a 5-4 advantage heading into the third.
“I’m proud of the group,” Rohlik said. “In the second period, we could’ve went one direction or the other and these guys decided that we’re going to show up and we’re going to empty the tanks and try to play the game the right way. We scored some goals, got on a roll and found a way to win a hockey game.”
Schilkey, who had a three point night, became the 69th member of the 100-point club for OSU hockey in the process.
“I’ve been blessed with plenty of opportunity to play with great players,” Schilkey said. “It feels good, but I’d turn in all of those points to finish the year on a win.”
Rohlik said he considers himself blessed with the character and leadership Schilkey brings on and off the ice.
“People see (Schilkey) as a hockey player,” Rohlik said. “To me, it’s a lot deeper than that. He’s a 4.0 student, he carries himself the right way, he’s our captain, he’s a leader, he does things the right way, he works hard. As a coach, those are the kind of guys you want in your program. That’s what’s called culture and he leads the way.”
Not to be outdone, Gust completed a hat trick in the third period to cap off the win. It was his first hat trick of his career.
OSU would find itself down by two goals again in the second game against Connecticut, though this time it wouldn’t be able to come back for the win.
Despite outshooting the Huskies 25-2 in the second period and 49-17 overall, the Buckeyes only found the back of the net one more time — a power play goal in the third period from Gust, which gave OSU a 3-2 lead. UConn forward Brian Morgan notched the game-tying goal with 9:40 left in the game.
The Buckeyes could do little except acknowledge the performance put on by Nichols to prevent the weekend sweep.
“A couple of them were miracles,” Jobst said. “He was diving all over the place. I thought we played pretty well, but at the end we’ve got to find a way to win.”
Although Rohlik recognized the brick wall he was up against in game two, he still wanted more from his group.
“You walk away, I’ve got a little sour taste,” Rohlik said. “We had a chance to sweep. It’s hard to beat a team twice and we found that out today.”
OSU, with its only home series in the first half of the season in the rear view mirror, will head back out on the road to take on Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for two games at Houston Field House in Troy, New York, next weekend.