The No. 14 Ohio State men’s hockey team (16-8-6, 7-6-1-1) left East Lansing, Michigan, with six Big Ten points after sweeping hosting Michigan State (6-19-3, 2-10-2-0).
The Buckeyes took a 3-2 lead early in the third period, and without suspended senior defender Josh Healey, put on a spectacular performance in the final 20 minutes to take Game One of the weekend series.
Sophomore forwards Dakota Joshua and John Wiitala, along with freshman forward Tanner Laczynski, netted goals in the victory. Laczynski also notched an assist on Wiitala’s goal, as well as two helpers from freshman defender Matt Miller.
A little over 10 minutes into the opening period, OSU opened the game’s scoring when Joshua buried a rebound from close range for a 1-0 lead on his sixth goal in his last six games. Junior defenseman Janik Moser notched his fourth assist of the season on the goal.
Despite the early goal, the Spartans would answer less than two minutes later after sophomore forward Brennan Sanford netted the equalizer on the rebound with 7:54 left in the first.
With under two minutes remaining, the Buckeyes retook the lead as Laczynski wristed a rocket into the top corner for his ninth goal of the season. However, the Scarlet and Gray lead would be short lived. With under 30 seconds remaining, Spartans senior forward Villiam Haag tied the game on the power play to enter the first intermission in a 2-2 deadlock.
In the second period, the hosts led OSU on shots 13-7 and the Buckeyes went on the power play twice, but neither team could find the back of the net as we entered the final 20 minutes in a 2-2 tie.
Less than two minutes into the period, however, the Scarlet and Gray found the winner.
Off the shot from Laczynski, Wiitala redirected the puck past Spartans freshman goalie John Lethemon for a 3-2 lead. Laczynski’s assist marked his second point of the night and 30th of season, as well as an assist from Miller on the play for his second point of the evening — and first two-point game as a Buckeye.
With nearly the entire period remaining, Michigan State searched for the equalizer and eventual winning goal, but came up empty in the final 20 minutes as OSU took Game One.
Senior goalie Christian Frey returned to the starting role between the pipes for the Buckeyes in this one, parrying away 33 shots on the night.
After Friday’s series opener, the Scarlet and Gray completed the weekend sweep of the Spartans with a 4-3 win Saturday night at Munn Ice Arena.
Goals from Miller, senior forward and captain Nick Schilkey, sophomore forward Brendan Kearney, and junior forward Matt Weis propelled the Buckeyes to their first series sweep in regulation since No. 18-19 at Rensselaer.
The visitors once again opened the scoring in Game Two, as Miller slapped a rocket through traffic into the back of the net to give OSU the 1-0 lead with 7:43 left in the period and into the first intermission. Redshirt junior defender Matt Joyaux notched his eighth assist of the season on the goal.
Under two minutes into the second, the Buckeyes scored twice less than 30 seconds apart to take a commanding 3-0 lead.
First, it was Schilkey on the power play for his 23rd goal of the season off the assist from senior forward David Gust. Next, it was Kearney from just inside the crease for his first goal for OSU this season. Schilkey’s total of 23 goals this season is the most by a Buckeye since 2005.
Despite the three-goal hole, Michigan State would respond less than a minute later as freshman forward Logan Lambdin redirected a shot to get his team on the board. The Spartans cut the lead to one with 6:44 left in the second period, as sophomore forward Mason Appleton scored on a screen to send us into the second intermission at 3-2.
With 17:59 remaining in the final frame, OSU found the eventual game winner. After winning a faceoff, Wiitala centered a pass to Weis, who one-timed the puck past Lethemon for his ninth goal of the year and a 4-2 Buckeye lead.
Michigan State cut the Scarlet and Gray advantage to one with just over six minutes remaining in the final 20 minutes after a goal by freshman forward Sam Saliba and peppered Frey in net, but the Spartans could not complete the comeback and fell 4-3.
The Buckeyes return to Columbus and the ice this weekend, as the rivaled Michigan Wolverines enter the Schottenstein Center to close out the season series. Puck drop Friday is set for 7 p.m., while Saturday’s start is slated for 5 p.m.