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Men’s hockey: Ohio State rides special team success to weekend sweep of UMass

Ohio State forward Mason Jobst holds off a Wisconsin forward as he crashes into senior goaltender Matt Tomkins during a Big Ten tournament semifinal game at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. OSU lost 2-1. Credit: Courtesy of Ric Kruszynski

Ohio State (3-1-2, 1-1-0-0 in Big Ten) got the special teams going, and maintained strong goaltending to earn victories in both games this weekend against University of Massachusetts Amherst (3-3-0, 0-0-0 in Hockey East).

Game One

Two power-play goals by junior forward Mason Jobst lifted Ohio State to a 3-1 victory in the first game of the series on Friday. The two goals were the first two of the season on the power play for the Buckeyes, who were a disastrous 0-for-20 on the man advantage coming into the game.

UMass started the scoring early with a goal from sophomore forward Niko Hildenbrand at the halfway point of the first period. The Buckeyes didn’t wait long to answer, with sophomore defenseman Matt Miller ripping a one-timer past freshman goalie Matt Murray to tie the game just over five minutes later. Sophomore forward Sam McCormick and junior forward Brendon Kearney tallied the assists on the play.

The big story of the night came from the special teams, with Jobst netting Ohio State’s first power play goal of the season in the middle of the second period. Jobst’s goal came on a 5-on-3 advantage off a rebound from a shot by senior forward Matt Weis. The Buckeyes led 2-1, and outshot the Minutemen 17-14 through two periods.

Jobst found the back of the net for the second time Friday, again on a man advantage from a pass by junior forward John Wiitala. Junior forward Dakota Joshua also earned an assist on the play, and the goal put Ohio State up 3-1 just 4:07 into the third period. The tally proved to be the final goal of the game.

Ohio State went 2-for-4 on the power play and a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill. Junior goalie Sean Romeo had another impressive outing, making 24 saves. He gave up only one goal for the third straight game. Murray had 21 saves for the Minutemen.

Game Two

The Buckeyes scored at the same level, but it was Romeo and senior defenseman Janik Möser who earned career firsts in the 3-0 shutout victory in game two of the series.

Senior forward Kevin Miller scored the first goal for Ohio State midway through the first, with assists from junior forward Tanner Laczynski and Joshua. Laczynski earned a second assist in the following period, this time on a shot by Moser. The goal was Moser’s first of his Ohio State career that has spanned 66 career games in a Buckeyes’ uniform.

Matt Miller almost earned his second of the series late in the second period, but, after a review of the play, the puck did not cross the line, and the game remained 2-0 after two periods. Ohio State led UMass in shots 24-14 through two.

It was more of the same for the Buckeyes in the third. Laczynski tallied his third assist of the night with under three minutes to go in the game on a shot by Weis to put some insurance on the Ohio State lead. Kevin Miller also earned an assist on the play.

Romeo made 23 saves in his first career shutout for the Buckeyes, Miller had 29 saves in his second loss of the series. Romeo continues to improve his numbers with each successive game, and now has an impressive .942 save percentage along with a 1.3 goals against average.

The power play went 0-for-6 in Game 2, moving the total tally to 2-for-30 on the season. The penalty kill continued to be a strength for Ohio State, as the three stops on Saturday has Ohio State at 20-for-21 while playing a man down.

Ohio State held UMass’ best player, freshman defenseman Cale Makar, without a point in either game. The Colorado Avalanche drafted Makar with the No. 4 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Ohio State plays a pair of games against Robert Morris, the first at 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center, and the second at 7 p.m. on the road in Pittsburgh.

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