Ohio State junior forward Dakota Joshua scored a pair of goals and redshirt junior goalie Sean Romeo made 25 saves on 27 shots en route to a 4-2 win against Michigan State (9-17-1, 3-13-1-1 Big Ten) Friday night at the Schottenstein Center to give the No. 5 Buckeyes (18-5-4, 11-5-1-0 Big Ten) their seventh-straight win at home.
Joshua’s physical presence on the boards made him a difficult matchup for the Spartans. He led the team with five shots and he played with a bit more motivation going against his former coach.
“I love playing Michigan State, chance to play Joe Exter, former coach of ours,” Joshua said. “We had a close relationship so it’s always good to get one over him. Definitely provides a little extra energy.”
Joe Exter was an assistant coach for Ohio State from 2011 to 2017. This is Exter’s first year as an assistant coach at Michigan State.
After mentioning this week a desire to jump on the Spartans from the beginning, Ohio State scored its first two goals on its first two shots.
On the Buckeyes’ first power-play chance four minutes into the game, sophomore forward Ronnie Hein took a pass from junior forward Mason Jobst and tucked the puck past the pads of sophomore goaltender John Lethemon for the game’s opening score.
Junior forward Freddy Gerard added his 10th goal of the season off a give-and-go play with senior forward Matthew Weis two minutes later.
Romeo was only tested seven times in the first period, but faced 20 shots in the second and third periods combined from an aggressive Spartan attack. The goalie said he was fortunate his defense gave him a clear line of sight to make the saves he needed to and clear the traffic.
“They’ve done a great job all year, they just did what they’ve been doing,” Romeo said. “Letting me have the first shot, kind of pushing everyone to the outside, let me see everything. It makes my night easier.”
In the early part of the third period, Joshua sped down the right side while driving to the net and used his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame for his first goal of the night.
“It’s always good to be able to use my body,” Joshua said. “I feel like I have an advantage over most people, so yeah, the physical play doesn’t bother me. I like to think I can play anytime of hockey.”
Michigan State scored a power-play goal to bring the score within one goal with eight minutes left in the game, but Joshua added the empty-net goal on a power play to ice the game.
Weis’ two assists and sophomore forward Tanner Laczynski’s single helper extended their point streaks to 11 games each. Weis has 19 points and Laczynski has 17 points during the streak.
Coming into Friday’s game against Michigan State, the Buckeyes were known to be a defensively stout team. Fourth in the nation in team defense with just 2.08 goals allowed per game and the nation’s top penalty kill, Ohio State would be comfortable entering the matchup playing a physical style of hockey, head coach Steve Rohlik said.
“They brought it, and it was kind of the way the game was going there for a while,” Rohlik said. “We just wanted to stay with our structure and stay disciplined. At the end of the day, if that’s the way the game is going to go, we certainly will play that way.”
The Buckeyes will have a chance to sweep the season series against the Spartans at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Schottenstein Center.