With a juicy home matchup against a last-place Michigan State team at home, the Ohio State men’s ice hockey team (8-14-2, 3-5-2) came into the weekend with a two-game sweep on its mind. After dropping Friday night’s game, however, it had to scramble to hold off the Spartans on Saturday night to hold onto the split.
Michigan State (6-18-2, 2-8-0) got on the board first in Game 1 just over three minutes in the first period. A poor clearance by junior defenseman Drew Brevig was picked up by junior forward Joe Cox. Cox then played it in to sophomore forward Dylan Pavelek, who sneaked the puck through multiple bodies and under OSU junior goaltender Christian Frey.
The Spartans would double their lead a little under six minutes later. Sophomore forward Luke Stork was dispossessed by junior forward Mackenzie MacEachern in the defensive zone. MacEachern then centered a pass for Spartans senior forward and captain Michael Ferrantino, who fired the puck into the upper-righthand corner of Frey’s net.
“First and foremost, you tip your cap to Michigan State. They came in here and dictated the play, especially for the first two periods, a lot in the second period,” OSU coach Steve Rohlik said. “We didn’t play well, and again that has a lot to do with those guys in (Michigan State’s) locker room. For whatever reason we just weren’t on our game and we couldn’t find it.”
The Buckeyes would reply with a goal from junior forward and co-captain Nick Schilkey. Schilkey collected a pass from sophomore forward Matthew Weis off a faceoff, and launched the puck from long range behind senior goalie Jake Hildebrand, bringing the score to 2-1 at the conclusion of the first period.
The second period was looking to finish scoreless, but Michigan State would regain its two-goal advantage with under two minutes remaining in the period. Freshman forward Brennan Sanford’s shot was inadvertently deflected past Frey by OSU freshman defenseman Tommy Parran for the friendly-fire goal.
“We’ve just got to be better in all phases. Really, to be honest with you, a couple of bad giveaways on our part they ended up in the net,” Rohlik said about the defensive miscues. “But overall, it just wasn’t our best effort for whatever reason, and certainly we’ve got to clean that up.”
Frustrations began to boil over when Weis got tangled with junior forward Thomas Ebbing in front of Hildebrand’s goal. Both players were sent to the box for roughing after the whistle as the second period ended.
“We talked all week that this is a good hockey team in Michigan State. Their record, don’t let that record fool you. They’re very capable of beating anybody on any night,” Rohlik said.
The Buckeyes once again cut the lead to one goal four and a half minutes into the third period. Freshman forward Mason Jobst picked up a pass from junior forward David Gust and fired a short-range effort into Hildebrand’s goal.
Gust’s assist extended his point streak to 12 games, while Jobst’s seventh goal of the season ranks him second among Big Ten rookies.
“It’s on us, us leaders to play the right way. Just as a forward group we got to get pucks in and we’ve got to play better as a whole,” co-captain Nick Schilkey said. “Pucks might find the back of the net for us here and there, but we’ve got to clean up a lot of things ourselves.”
The Spartans would put the game away, however, with a little over a minute left in the period. The Buckeyes left an empty net in a last-ditch effort to find an equalizer, but it would be MacEachern who would score for Michigan State, putting the match away at a score of 4-2.
“We gave one away tonight, but we’ve got to turn the page and come back tomorrow and just get back our game,” Schilkey said.
The following evening, the Buckeyes looked to have gotten their game back after a scoreless first period, limiting Michigan State to just eight shots.
Goals finally came in the second period. Freshman forward Miguel Fidler fired the Buckeyes into the lead at the 4:40 mark with his second goal of the season. Jobst would double the lead for the Scarlet and Gray with just a little under five minutes remaining in the period.
“No question. Guys forget (the bad game). That’s a very good hockey team over there, and they can beat anybody in the country on any given night,” Rohlik said about his team’s bounceback performance. “This is certainly a step in the right direction.”
Gust would connect with Jobst again, stretching his point streak to 13 games. Jobst tacked on another point toward his 1.86 points per game, which ranks him fifth in the nation.
Michigan State would bring a goal back courtesy of MacEachern with just over 15 seconds left in the period.
The third period was dominated by defense, with neither side finding the back of the net. The Spartans would pull their goalie entering the final minute of the period, but neither side could score, ending the contest 2-1.
There was a bit of a scare when sophomore forward Christian Lampasso was sent flying head first into the boards by junior forward Thomas Ebbing. Lampasso was attempting to collect a loose puck behind Michigan State’s net when both players hit the deck. He skated off under his own power. There was controversy regarding the lack of an icing call on the play.
“Tough call. The hard part about it is my understanding of the icing rule was to eliminate those kinds of hits or plays,” Rohlik said. “To be going full speed, those boards aren’t giving, so it was a dangerous play. There guy was trying to go for the puck, I’m not saying he’s in there trying to hit our guy, but it’s a tough play.”
Senior defenseman and co-captain Craig Dalrymple echoed the words of his coach.
“I fired (the puck) down and I honestly thought it was icing,” Dalrymple said. “That last two minute sequence, as a defenseman, as a team, we’re not going to give this one up. We’re just happy we got the job done.”
OSU is set to complete its three-weekend homestand following a week off against Penn State on Feb. 12 and 13 against Minnesota. Puck-drop is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.