The No. 2 Ohio State men’s hockey team (19-6-4, 12-4-3 Big Ten) saw its seven-game winning streak ended after Minnesota (12-14-4, 9-9-3 Big Ten) pulled out the 4-3 victory.
Minnesota was consistently ahead of Ohio State throughout the match: every time Ohio State came within striking distance, the Golden Gophers countered to maintain the lead.
The Buckeyes had a rough time going up against Minnesota in the beginning, but eventually found their stride in the third period where almost all of the action of the night took place.
Junior forward Ronnie Hein said the team struggled to find momentum after going down early.
“We know we’re a great hockey team and we’ve come from behind before,” Hein said. “Even when we were down one we weren’t worried about it. I thought we were actually playing pretty well before they had that first goal and then we shut down after that.”
This weekend matchup against Minnesota was particularly special with it being Military Appreciation Weekend. To honor this, the Buckeyes wore jackets honoring United States troops and an induction ceremony for new Air Force members occurred in between the first and second period.
“I think it’s pretty obvious,” head coach Steve Rohlik said. “We’re pretty thankful to be able to do what we do because of what they do.”
Both teams began to pour on the points during the third period. It began when Minnesota junior defenseman Ryan Zuhlsdorf scored Minnesota’s third point midway through the period. Ohio State responded with a goal of their own only minutes later when junior forward Sam McCormick scored his first goal of the season, making the score 3-2.
This was followed by a quick retaliation from Minnesota when sophomore forward Scott Reedy netted the Golden Gophers their fourth goal of the night. With only 3:35 left on the clock, freshman forward Quinn Preston cut the deficit to one when he sent a puck straight into the Golden Gophers’ net, bringing the game to 4-3.
The Buckeyes pulled their goalie in the last remaining 30 seconds of the game but were unable to even the score, ending their seven-game win streak.
Both teams played more aggressively in the second period than in the first. Midway through the period, Minnesota’s freshman forward Nathan Burke managed to advance its lead to 2-0.
With 15.5 seconds left on the clock, Ohio State shortened the Golden Gophers’ lead when senior forward John Wiitala, assisted by junior defenseman Gordi Myer and junior forward Carson Meyer shot a puck straight past their defense, netting the Buckeyes their first point of the game.
Ohio State only managed three shots on goal in the second period.
The first period was relatively uneventful, with the only major highlight being Minnesota’s senior defenseman Jack Sadek putting the first goal on the scoreboard with 3:16 to go in the period. While Ohio State led in shots 7-5, Minnesota ended the period leading in points 1-0.
“Probably playing our worst first two periods of the year,” Rohlik said. “That’s a start. We got our second shot-on-net in the second period right at the end when we scored the goal with 15 seconds to go.”
No. 2 Ohio State plays Minnesota for a rematch in the Schottenstein Center at 6 p.m. Saturday.