No captain, no problem.
The No. 11 Ohio State men’s hockey team (12-4-6, 3-2-1-1), without senior forward, captain and leading goal scorer Nick Schilkey, returned to conference play in a big way this weekend with a series sweep over top-ranked Penn State. OSU recording a shootout win after a 3-3 overtime draw on Friday and a 6-3 victory Saturday over the No. 1 Nittany Lions (16-3-2, 5-2-0-1).
After trailing the Nittany Lions by a one-goal deficit three different times, the Scarlet and Gray clawed its way back to tie the home side 3-3, behind the sticks of senior defender Josh Healey and sophomore forward Mason Jobst.
The extra period ended in a 3-3 draw, but freshman forward Sam McCormick slotted the puck past Penn State freshman goaltender Peyton Jones in the seventh round of the subsequent shootout, giving the Scarlet and Gray an extra point in the conference standings.
Penn State jumped out to an early lead with 12:12 left in the first period with a goal from junior forward James Robinson, but Healey would level the score at one with under 10 minutes left in the second.
The hosts entered the final frame with a 2-1 advantage, but just seven minutes into the period, Jobst would equalize for the Buckeyes. And after the Nittany Lions led 3-2 with 7:19 left, it was Jobst again with his second of the night and third in the last two games.
Senior goaltender Christian Frey made 56 saves against the nation’s top offense.
Ohio State ended the weekend with a 6-3 victory over the top-ranked Nittany Lions behind goals from six different Buckeyes, and 41 saves from Frey.
The finale of this conference series began similarly as the first, as OSU found itself in a quick 1-0 hole just three minutes in after senior defenseman David Thompson opened the game’s scoring.
Despite this, Ohio State would recover quickly, as sophomore forward John Wiitala and Jobst would net a goal each in the first period to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Jobst’s goal marks his 27th point of the season, and 15th in the last eight games.
The Scarlet and Gray scoring, however, would not stop there.
Just 18 seconds into the second period, sophomore forward Dakota Joshua went one-on-one with Jones and beat the netminder for his third of the season to add to the OSU lead.
Nevertheless, after the Nittany Lions answered with two goals of their own from freshman defenseman Kris Myllari and sophomore forward Andrew Sturtz, we entered the final period of the series in a 3-3 deadlock.
The Buckeyes would quickly put the game away in the third, as junior forwards Matthew Weis and Luke Stork scored with under two minutes into the period, and just over a minute apart, to give the Scarlet and Gray a 5-3 lead.
Junior forward Christian Lampasso would add extra insurance with 2:50 left in the game, as the Amherst, New York, native netted his first goal of the season to make it 6-3.
Frey came up big once again for the Buckeyes in this matchup, notching 41 saves in the game and 97 overall on the weekend.
The Buckeyes are back in action on Thursday night, as they welcome the Wisconsin Badgers to the Schottenstein Center. Game 2 will feature a neutral site, as these two Big Ten teams travel to Madison Square Garden for the finale of the season series.
Puck drop for both Thursday and Saturday is set for 7 p.m.