Freshman goalie Matt Tomkins returned to the lineup as the Ohio State men’s hockey team took four points from a weekend series against Michigan State.
Tomkins, who sustained an injury during a 6-1 victory against Niagara Nov. 9, tallied 59 saves over the two games as OSU (11-6-1, 1-2-1) earned its first-ever points in the Big Ten play.
A season-high crowd of more than 8,000 Saturday saw the Spartans ride an early lead all the way into the third period, only for the Buckeyes’ junior forward Darik Angeli to score midway through the final stanza.
Neither team could find the winning goal in the final minutes or in the overtime period. The shootout ended 3-2 in favor of Michigan State, as Angeli was stopped by sophomore goalie Jake Hildebrand, giving the Spartans (6-10-3, 0-2-2) the extra point in the Big Ten conference standings.
Friday night’s game saw the Buckeyes — who are tied for second in the Big Ten in goals per game with 3.25 — continue their strong attacking in a 5-3 victory. Leading the charge was junior forward Ryan Dzingel, whose three goals, to go along with an assist on a goal by junior forward Nick Oddo, extend his streak of games with at least a point to 10.
Dzingel credited the play of his two linemates, Oddo and freshman forward Nick Schilkey, as the key to his recent success.
“I feel like our line has been clicking and we know where each other are on the ice,” Dzingel said. “I enjoy playing with these guys and I was just fortunate enough to get a couple goals.”
Michigan State coach Tom Anastos said after Friday’s game his team “had to be better” in the defensive zone.
“I thought it was a big difference in our game because (defense is) really part of our identity,” Anastos said. “That’s the expectations we have, so that was much more in alignment with how we should be playing all the time.”
The Buckeyes are scheduled to play against Big Ten opponents for the rest of the regular season. Coach Steve Rohlik said the competitive nature of the two games against Michigan State is something that will be repeated ad nauseam in the Big Ten.
“It’s going to be a broken record every weekend,” Rohlik said. “It’s going to make our players better and it’s going to make us (as) coaches better.”
Next up for the Buckeyes is a trip to Minneapolis for two games against No. 1 Minnesota. Their first game against the Gophers is outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium, home of Minnesota’s football team. Puck drop for the game is set for 9 p.m. Friday.