The Ohio State men’s hockey team couldn’t repeat Friday night’s success, falling 3-2 against Michigan State in the last regular season game of the season.
Saturday’s matchup between the Buckeyes (20-9-5, 13-7-4 Big Ten) and the Spartans (12-17-5, 8-12-4 Big Ten) was marked by high tensions and high penalty counts. Each teams received five penalties, with nine occurring in the first two periods.
Coming into the game with the fourth best power play percentage in the country, Ohio State head coach Steve Rohlik said the Michigan State took advantage of the opportunities his team gave the Spartans with penalties.
“You can’t keep giving that power play more and more opportunities,” Rohlik said. “It starts to take momentum away from you and we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit there taking some penalties.”
Michigan State’s momentum began early in the third period. Coming into the period tied at 1, sophomore forward Mitchell Lewandowski scored the go-ahead goal for the Spartans 1:07 into the period. This momentum would continue when sophomore forward Brody Stevens advanced their lead with his fifth goal of the season, giving Michigan State a 3-1 lead.
Junior forward Tanner Laczynski narrowed Ohio State’s deficit to 3-2 after scoring with 2:47 left in the game.
The second period, much like the first, saw both teams struggling to find any advantage over one another. Then, with 14:08 left on the clock and Ohio State senior forward Mason Jobst in the penalty box, Michigan State junior forward Patrick Khodorenko scored the first power play of the match, giving the Spartans to a 1-0 advantage.
Ohio State junior defenseman Wyatt Ege quickly answered, scoring the Buckeyes on a power play of their own midway through the period, tying the teams up going into the third period.
Despite the loss for Ohio State, the team’s fourth in its past six games, senior forward John Wiitala said the team remained confident, especially in the break before the third period.
But with confidence game aggression as the Buckeyes added three penalties in the second period to the Spartans’ two.
In the first period, Ohio State had the slight advantage in shots, recording 11 to Michigan State’s 10. However, after outshooting the Spartans 18-8 in the deciding third period, the Buckeyes finished the game with a nine-shot advantage in the loss.
Ohio State senior defenseman Sasha Larocque said the loss against Michigan State did not take anything away from the Buckeyes winning the Big Ten regular season title.
“We worked all year for that,” Larocque said. “To win it when we did last weekend, that was the big one to us. Once you finally get your hands on that trophy, that makes it all worthwhile.”
Securing a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament, Ohio State awaits the winner of Notre Dame and Michigan State in the semifinal on March 17.