The No. 6 Ohio State men’s hockey team (19-8-5, 12-8-1-1 Big Ten) clinched second place in the Big Ten after it split its weekend series against No. 10 Minnesota (19-13-2, 10-10-2-1 Big Ten) in Minneapolis. The Buckeyes dropped Friday’s game 2-1, then bounced back Saturday for a 2-1 shootout win.
With a 22-save performance from sophomore goaltender Mat Robson, Minnesota took Game 1 of the weekend series by the score of 2-1.
Despite struggling to maintain offense, the Buckeyes came inches from sending the game to overtime when senior forward Matthew Weis hit the post with less than 40 seconds left in the game. The puck slid across the goal line before being swatted away by a Minnesota defender.
From the start, the Buckeyes never seemed to get settled into the game. They fought the puck, turning it over again and again, falling trap to the Gophers’ speed game.
The Gophers got on the board first after a Buckeye turnover in the neutral zone, and junior forward Brent Gates Jr. capitalized later off a rebound, lifting the puck over sprawling redshirt junior goalie Sean Romeo.
Minnesota had the early advantage in play and a 13-5 lead in shots after one period.
Robson was the difference when the Buckeyes had offensive opportunities. With 17:11 left in the second period, Ohio State junior forward Brendon Kearney was alone in front of the goal. He was robbed by Robson’s glove in a save-of-the-year candidate stop, which kept the Gophers in the lead.
Later in the period, Minnesota senior defenseman Jack Glover feathered a shot on net that got past Romeo for his first goal of the season. It also ended up being the eventual game-winning goal.
The Buckeyes added a power-play goal in the third period off the stick of sophomore defenseman Matt Miller, but it wasn’t enough in the loss.
Ohio State didn’t take a single penalty against the Gophers, stopping the top-ranked penalty kill from seeing the ice.
The Buckeye power play finished the night 1-for-3, giving Ohio State its only goal of the game.
Romeo finished with 26 saves on 28 shots in the loss on Friday night.
Ohio State bounced back against Minnesota Saturday with a 2-1 shootout victory. Sophomore forward Tanner Laczynski and senior defenseman Gordi Myer scored in the shootout, while Romeo made 34 saves on 35 shots while also stopping seven of eight in the shootout.
The nation’s top-ranked penalty kill went 3-for-3 in the game against a talented Minnesota power play with the goaltender being the Buckeyes’ best penalty killer. Romeo kept his team in the game with several outstanding saves, including three full-extension saves with 1:08 left on a 5-on-3 power play for the Gophers.
In the second period, junior forward Mason Jobst finally got the Buckeyes the lead with a quick snapshot over the glove hand of Robson, allowing them to capitalize on a Gopher turnover in their zone for Jobsts’ team-leading 14th goal of the season.
Ohio State had the edge in shots at 24-20 headed into the third period.
Halfway through the third, Minnesota tied the game on a shot from Gates Jr., his 11th of the season and second of the weekend series, but it didn’t come without some controversy.
Seconds earlier, junior forward Freddy Gerard was on the receiving end of a late open ice hit by Minnesota sophomore defenseman Ryan Lindgren. Gerard was slow to get to the bench causing the Buckeyes to be outnumbered in the zone and the eventual tying goal.
The game moved past regulation, giving the teams an opportunity to grab the extra point in the standings.
The Buckeyes got the shootout win with stellar goaltending from Romeo and the game-winning goal off the stick of Myer that beat Robson to his stick side.
Ohio State clinched second place in the Big Ten with the shootout win, giving them home ice in the upcoming Big Ten tournament.
The Ohio State power play failed to score on two attempts.
Minnesota goaltender Robson was fantastic, making 38 saves on 39 shots in a losing effort.