The Ohio State men’s hockey team split its two games against the Penn State in a physical yet high-flying series that included 11 goals and 12 penalties between the two sides.
Penn State would strike first in the first encounter with 9:24 remaining in the first period. Freshman forward Andrew Sturtz fired the puck behind OSU junior Christian Frey’s right shoulder while the Buckeyes were on the power play.
The Scarlet and Gray responded rapidly, taking advantage of the shorthanded Nittany Lions courtesy of junior defenseman Josh Healey’s fourth goal of the season. The assist by junior forward David Gust extended his point streak to 10 games. The lamplighter extended OSU’s power-play goal streak to four games.
The second period was dominated by defense. Senior forward and co-captain Anthony Greco and Gust had good chances to grab the lead, but they couldn’t find a way past senior netminder Matthew Skoff. Frey would also make nine saves in the period. The Buckeyes finally found the back of the net when junior forward and co-captain Nick Schilkey scored his 11th goal of the season with just over a minute left in the period.
Both sides continued to demonstrate their defensive prowess into the third period. Penn State would eventually level the score at 2-2, courtesy of freshman defenseman Kevin Kerr’s first career goal at the 16:50 mark. Neither side would score again, sending the game into overtime.
There would not be another shootout like the Saturday prior against Michigan. Penn State freshman forward Alex Marsh netted the game winner at the 3:32 mark in overtime, ending the contest at 3-2.
“You got to continue to get better as a hockey team, and you can’t keep giving points away to Penn State,” OSU coach Steve Rohlik said after Friday’s loss. “They continue to work hard, they continue to put pucks on the net. As a hockey team you got to be able to take care of leads, take care of the puck.”
The Buckeyes finished the match only scoring once on five power-play opportunities. Both Rohlik and Schilkey expressed their belief that there was more to be desired from the special teams.
“Certainly you got to take advantage of power plays. We had one (power-play goal), but when you go back and look at the game, if we could get a second or a third, certainly you would like to do that,” Rohlik said. “We’ll continue to sharpen things up.”
Schilkey echoed his coach’s words, saying he believed the team has to be able to convert some of the opportunities it was granted.
“It is frustrating, but it’s just something we got to stick with. We can’t let it affect our game. We try not to let that happen,” Schilkey said. “Chances still came, so I can’t say that it really affected us too much, but of course it’s frustrating you want a couple of those (shots) to go in. Tonight it just didn’t happen.”
In Game 2 it would be the Buckeyes that would breakthrough first. Senior defenseman and co-captain Craig Dalrymple scored on a breakaway four minutes into the first period, putting one past junior goaltender Eamon McAdam.
“It was great to get off to a good start. Great to get the first goal. In any game, to go up one-nothing is everything you want,” Dalrymple said. “I think tonight as soon as we got one I don’t think we ever looked back.”
The goal was assisted by freshman forward Brendan Kearney. Kearney and freshman forward Dakota Joshua returned from one-game suspensions resulting from Sunday’s post-match altercation against Michigan.
“Everybody in that locker room, all our guys contribute, and when we push each other Monday through Thursday it helps us on the weekend,” Rohlik said. “Not having (Kearney and Joshua) in last night and getting them in tonight and it was nice to see them get on the board, but their energy was more than everything.”
Schilkey would double the lead for the Scarlet and Gray in the second period. He collected an errant clearance from the Penn State defense and netted the Buckeyes’ fifth shorthanded goal on the season with 8:10 remaining in the period. OSU then made it 3-0 five minutes later. Freshman forward Miguel Fidler squeezed the puck behind a sprawling McAdam; it was his first goal in a Buckeye uniform.
Penn State would get on the board in a little under two minutes into the third period. A shot from senior forward Eric Scheid clanged off Frey’s right-side post and ricocheted off his back and into the net.
The Buckeyes impressively held off a five-minute-long power play by the Nittany Lions during the period. They did not allow Penn State, the nation’s leader in shots on goal, one attempt on Frey’s net. The penalty was a result from contact to the head by Healey.
“Even in a tough situation there in the third period, to kill off that five minute major, that just shows you, what we can do,” Rohlik said. “It was a big kill, and it was a big night for us.”
Dalrymple said the penalty kill was a key moment in the game for the home team.
“We know they scored early in the third. A two-goal lead is never safe in hockey. Maybe there was a bit of controversy on the call, but we knew we could take care of that for Josh Healey,” Dalrymple said. “We just kind of buckled down. Four guys on the ice and everyone did their job and we just killed it off.”
OSU would capitalize on its first power play of the night later in the period. A nifty solo move and a slick finish by freshman forward Mason Jobst put the Buckeyes up 4-1 at the 14:30 mark in the period.
Penn State pulled its goalie in an effort to get their offense going and it backfired on them quickly, as Joshua put the puck into the empty net with a little over four minutes remaining in the period. That would be the last of the scoring, and the game would finish in a 5-1 OSU victory.
OSU’s three-series homestand is set to continue next Friday and Saturday against Michigan State. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively, at the Schottenstein Center.