The second game of the night also featured some overtime play. As expected, the highly touted Ohio State offense struggled to find the back of the net against Michigan’s state defensive combination of Jake Hildebrand and his goaltending assistants- the rest of the team.
The Spartans jumped out to an early lead; Greg Wolfe scored just over four minutes into the game. This put the Buckeyes in the unenviable position of having to play MSU from behind. If there’s one thing that the Spartans do well, it’s clogging up shooting lanes to block shots. Despite the fact that a one-goal lead is the most dangerous lead in hockey, MSU tends to go into a defensive shell once they have any sort of lead, a move that can frustrate even the most potent offenses.
MSU carried that lead through the first period, and only allowed seven shots on Hildebrand. OSU coach Steve Rohlik had a few choice words for his team between periods (just speculating) regarding their effort on offense, and the team would respond in the second period with twelve shots on net. The pressure cracked the Spartan defense, and junior forward Tanner Fritz knotted the game with less than four minutes to play in the second.
Sometimes, late period goals can cause a massive shift in the games momentum, but the two teams battled evenly through the third period, and regulation time would end in a 1-1 tie. Hockey fans everywhere settled in for another OT bout, and Gopher fans were outwardly hoping that this game would go to four or five OT periods before a winner was decided.
The Buckeyes had other ideas, and they came out of the break determined to finish the game quickly. They put five shots on net before scoring on the sixth just four minutes and 23 seconds into the period. Freshman defender Drew Brevig showed veteran patience at the top of the slot, allowing two Spartan would-be-shot-blockers to slide out of the way before firing a shot past Hildebrand.
On the whole, this game went as expected. The Buckeye scorers struggled to solve Hildebrand, who had 32 saves on the night. As usual, the Spartan offense struggled against a competent defensive team. The result: a close game between two teams with contrasting styles.
Notably absent from the score sheet was OSU’s leading scorer Ryan Dzingel. If the Buckeyes have any hope of advancing through this tournament and earning an automatic qualification into the , they’ll need him to get on the board. Something tells me he will.
MSU’s season comes to an end on the earliest date possible, a fact that won’t be lost on a Spartan fan base dissatisfied with the program’s progress under Tom Anastos. Before tonight’s game, some fans were wondering aloud about Anastos’ future. Tonight’s result probably did little to encourage them.
Ohio State faces off against Minnesota in the tournament semi-finals tomorrow night at 7 PM.