Ohio State prevailed in crunch time, shutting down Penn State with less than two minutes remaining to secure the 5-2 victory on Saturday.
The Buckeyes (9-4-1, 4-2-0-0 Big Ten) dropped their first game 4-3 to Penn State (10-3-0, 2-2-0-0 Big Ten) in a fast-paced and shot-filled matchup.
The Schottenstein Center roared as senior forward Dakota Joshua scored the game-winning goal with less than three minutes remaining to make it 3-2, assisted by senior forward John Wiitala.
“That’s what college hockey is all about,” Ohio State junior forward Ronnie Hein said. “We talk about it all the time. Going into the third period it’s a 2-2 game at home against Penn State who’s ranked just up there with us. It’s fun to play in and you want to be out there in those pressure situations to help your team out.”
Senior forward Mason Jobst opened up the scoring earlier in the game with his ninth goal of the season. Freshman forward Gustaf Westlund was one of the two assists, the other being junior forward Carson Meyer.
Since they started playing on the same line together, Jobst and Westlund have found success with each other, leading the team in goals and assists, respectively, and both are top three in shots among Buckeyes.
Penn State was able to sneak in a buzzer-beater to tie the game up at the end of the first period. Joshua was assessed a penalty for interference on the goal which came back to haunt the Buckeyes early in the second period when the Nittany Lions converted on the power play to make it 2-1.
The penalty kill was an issue for Ohio State in its first game against the Nittany Lions, allowing them to score on half of their attempts. But they only allowed one power play goal Saturday night on four opportunities. The Buckeyes recorded one goal on six attempts with a man advantage.
“I think we were better for sure,” Ohio State head coach Steve Rohlik said. “Nothing’s perfect, a coach always wants to be perfect, but I don’t think that will ever happen, but we’ll certainly try to get there. But yeah, our team responded tonight. It’s a credit to these guys, I can’t say enough about my locker room.”
Penn State sophomore forward Alex Limoges scored the power play goal, his 20th point of the season, second in the NCAA behind his sophomore forward teammate Evan Barratt.
The Buckeyes responded later in the second period with a power play goal of their own, this time by Hein. This was Hein’s fourth goal of the season and he was assisted by junior defenseman Matt Miller and Meyer, his second assist of the game.
Turnovers were again an issue for the Buckeyes. Not being able to handle a puck was a key factor in the shot discrepancy between the two teams and why Penn State was able to control it so often. Penn State outshout the Buckeyes 40-33.
Senior defenseman Sasha Larocque and senior forward Brendon Kearney both added empty net goals in the waning seconds, both assisted by Hein for his second and third points of the game.
Sophomore goaltender Tommy Nappier allowed two goals and saved 38 shots, a season high. Nappier still holds the best save percentage in the nation at .955 and allows 1.37 goals per game.
Ohio State will go on the road next weekend to face the Minnesota Gophers. Friday’s game will begin at 8:00 p.m. while the puck will drop Saturday at 5:00 p.m.