A shaky second period made it difficult, but after a long night of hockey, Ohio State defeated Michigan State 4-3 in overtime on Mason Jobst's OT winner to advance to tomorrow's Big Ten Tournament semifinals against Minnesota.
The Buckeyes took control of the game immediately when freshman John Wiitala scored on a wraparound 38 seconds into the game. Freshman Tommy Parran scored his second career goal later in the period to put Ohio State up 2-0 and in commanding position after one period.
But the second period was a disaster for the Buckeyes. Three sloppy, unnecessary penalties, including a five-minute major put the Buckeyes a man down three times, and Michigan State was able to capitalize on all three opportunities to take a 3-2 lead into the third period.
But Matthew Weis had the answer for Ohio State in the third period when a blocked shot landed on his stick and he scored off the ricochet to tie the game.
The game would stay tied until overtime. A gassed Michigan State team did all they could to try and end the game early, but it was Ohio State that found the game winner. Defenseman Craig Dalrymple made a nice play to just barely hold a puck inside the Michigan State zone and fired a low wrist shot on net. Michigan State goalie Jake Hildebrand had difficulty controlling the rebound, and left the puck in front of his own net, where Jobst was waiting to put the puck back into the upper corner of the net.
Michigan State's season ends with the loss. Ohio State keeps their hopes alive of winning the Big Ten Tournament and earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. They will face Minnesota in tomorrow evening's second semifinal game.
Notes and Thoughts:
-This game was a disaster of a start for Michigan State, going down 2-0 early and getting outshot 19-4 in the first period. They were lucky to get back into the game thanks to some bad Ohio State penalties, and from there, played pretty well, but that sloppy start meant Ohio State was just one bounce away from the tying the game in the third period. It was a bit unlucky that one of Michigan State's rare blocked shots tonight ended up on Weis' stick for the game-tying goal, but that tying goal felt like a matter of if, not when.
-It's no secret that Ohio State defenseman Josh Healey is pretty good. He made the Big Tens all-conference team. But he looked great tonight. His assist in the first period was a pretty one to step around a defender and create his own shot. His quickness makes him a really nice offensive threat for the Buckeyes.
-The key for Ohio State this year was always going to be their big freshman class, and at the end of the season, they came through tonight. Wiitala got them started, Parran makes a nice aggressive play to get the second goal, and Jobst, who has really been fantastic this year, got the game-winner. Underrated because he just missed out on a second assist, but big rookie Dakota Joshua sets up Parran's goal with a beautiful one-on-one zone entry. Next year might be the year for the Buckeyes if they are going to break through and compete with the best in the Big Ten.
-The three bad penalties by Ohio State and Michigan State's ability to capitalize on them were what kept this game close. Two of the three goals came off Michigan State blasting away from the point and getting a generous bounce to find the net. It was similar to the first game, when Penn State got a couple bounces to go their way. The difference was Penn State was able to keep the game close otherwise, and let those two bounces be the difference. Michigan State was thoroughly out-played and those two bounces weren't enough to make the difference.
-Michigan State's most aggressive play of the game came in the overtime, when the Spartans looked desperate to end the game early. It almost worked too, as Ryan Keller just missed a putback game-winner on an empty net. They had to play five defensemen all night, and their fourth line saw very little ice time. A lack of depth really hurt them in this game.
Shots on goal: OSU: 19-11-12-6-48 MSU: 4-9-14-7-34
Even strength shot attempts: OSU: 16-15-11-15-57-61.2% MSU: 10-5-12-9-36-38.8%
Prime scoring area attempts: OSU: 10-4-3-5-22 MSU: 3-9-4-3-19
What do the numbers tell us?
Michigan State kept it close thanks to the three power play goals, but Ohio State controlled this game at 5-on-5 and had the better chances almost the entire game.
0:38 John Wiitala from Mason Jobst 1-0 Ohio State
In the game's first minute, Wiitala picked up a loose puck behind the net and scored on a wraparound.
18:52 Tommy Parran from Josh Healey and Kevin Miller 2-0 Ohio State
Healey made a nice move at the right point to elude an MSU defender and create an open slap shot. Hildebrand made the first save, but left a big rebound on the left side that Parran was able to put back into the net after sneaking in from the left point.
5:15 Joe Cox from Travis Walsh and Matt DeBlouw (power play) 2-1 Ohio State
Cox had the puck at the left circle and wired a nasty shot into the upper corner of the net that beat Frey to the glove side.
8:24 Matt DeBlouw from Travis Walsh and Villiam Haag (power play) 2-2 Ohio State
DeBlouw took a one-timer from the right point that hit an Ohio State in front and snuck past Frey for the goal.
11:31 Michael Ferrantino from Zach Osburn and MacKenzie MacEachern (power play) 3-2 Michigan State
Osburn took a pass at the left point and one-timed a puck on net. Ferrantino got a piece of the puck just in front of the crease to beat Frey.
3:17 Matthew Weis from Drew Brevig and Josh Healey 3-3 tie
Healey fed a puck across the blue line to Brevig who took a one-timer from the top of the slot. A Michigan State defender blocked it, but the ricochet went right to Weis at the right circle and he one-timed the puck into the net.
13:47 Mason Jobst from Craig Dalrymple 4-3 Ohio State
Dalrymple just barely reached out to hold a puck in at the blue line and fired a wrist shot towards the net. The rebound kicked out right into the slot for Jobst to put back for the game-winner.