Redshirt junior goalie Sean Romeo had arguably his worst series of the season last week against Penn State, giving up nine goals in two games while not looking like the net-minder who places among the leaders at his position in nearly every statistic this year.
Tonight, he showed why he’s been the backbone of this defensive-minded Buckeyes team.
No. 15 Ohio State (9-4-4, 4-4-1-0 in Big Ten) needed all 33 saves from Romeo in a tight 2-1 overtime victory at the Schottenstein Center Friday against No. 7 Minnesota.
“When someone comes down and you’re not scared that [Romeo] going to let one in it’s always nice,” senior forward Christian Lampasso said. “We did a great job blocking shots today … so it’s not just [Romeo] playing good defensively it’s our whole team, but it’s definitely good having someone so solid in the net.”
Lampasso scored the winner in the extra frame for Ohio State after he found the puck on his stick in front of the net from teammate junior forward Dakota Joshua to give the Buckeyes three key points in the Big Ten standings.
“Playing against Minnesota, they’re always hard to play against,” Lampasso said. “Any time you can beat a top 10 team it’s always a big W.”
Ohio State maintained a 1-0 lead until late in the third period, where sophomore forward Rem Pitlick scored on an odd-man rush to break Romeo’s shutout and force overtime.
The Buckeyes had yet to score in the extra period this season, with all four previous efforts eventually moving to a shootout, but Lampasso broke that streak, and gave his team a much-needed boost.
“It’s nice to get a couple of bounces there at the end, but you have to work for those, and I just liked our mentality,” head coach Steve Rohlik said. “We kind of gave up the lead late there, but our team could have folded and we went the other way, overtime we had a couple good looks, and it was nice to finish it off.”
The Buckeyes opened the scoring in the first period on a power play goal by sophomore forward Tanner Laczynski that beat junior goalie Eric Schierhorn in the top corner. The goal was set up by a series of passes that led to Laczynski being all alone, and he buried his opportunity. Junior forward Mason Jobst and senior forward Matthew Weis earned assists on the play.
The assist gave Jobst 100 career points for Ohio State in only 91 games.
“It means a lot for sure,” Jobst said. “It’s a milestone I wasn’t sure I was going to get when I got here, but I’ve been surrounded by a lot of great players, last year, this year freshmen year, and the coaching staff has put me in a good spot to be successful.”
The second period ended scoreless, but there were strong chances on both sides of the ice. Redshirt junior goalie Sean Romeo made some big saves while on the penalty kill, keeping Ohio State ahead despite being outshot by the Golden Gophers 16-11 in the period.
Minnesota controlled most of the third period, and it was up to Romeo to maintain the thin margin, which he did until the Pitlick goal late.
Ohio State went a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill, which Rohlik said was a major factor in tonight’s game.
“We scored a big power play goal, and at the end of the day it’s a difference,” Rohlik said. “I mean our kill was a bend but don’t break, I don’t think they had a power play goal and we had one, so when you look at it at the end of the game special teams is a key.”
The Buckeyes move just a point behind Minnesota after the win, and the victory marks only the second win for Ohio State at home this season.
“When you have a good team that believes in themselves, you’re going to have some good finishes and we did that tonight,” Rohlik said.
Game 2 puck drop for Ohio State and Minnesota is Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.