COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State came from behind to snap a four-game losing streak, beating No. 13 Michigan State, 3-2, at Value City Arena.
Junior Andrew Schembri had two third-period goals and sophomore Tom Fritsche had a goal and an assist as Ohio State (3-5-1, 2-4-1 CCHA) registered its first win since beating Bowling Green Oct. 20.
“We’re satisfied with the win,” said OSU head coach John Markell. “We needed something positive to happen. We feel we played a good game, not a great game.”
The Spartans (5-4-2, 2-4-2 CCHA) saw their losing streak reach three games after dropping a home series against Nebraska-Omaha Nov. 11-12. Tuesday’s contest was the sixth for Michigan State in 12 days while the Buckeyes were idle last weekend, a disparity that may have factored into the outcome, said head coach Rick Comley.
“We’ve played a lot of games in a short stretch and been beaten up doing it, but I thought our kids worked hard and I thought Ohio State’s too good a team to lose as much as they’ve lost.
“They had nine days rest. They didn’t get themselves into penalty trouble as they’ve done in some recent games, so I thought they played up to their capabilities, and I thought we played well enough to win on the road.”
While the Buckeyes did limit themselves to five penalties for 10 minutes and the game saw only eight infractions called, power plays for each team did swing the momentum.
Trailing 1-0 early in the second, the Spartans found themselves with three consecutive power plays, capitalizing at 9:50 and scoring again, even-strength, 14 seconds later to take a 2-1 lead.
In the third period, however, MSU’s Tim Crowder was given a five-minute penalty for checking OSU’s Matt Waddell from behind, and the Bucks scored their first power-play tally in 40 tries to even the score.
“I thought they were both kind of lunging at the puck,” said Comley, “but whether it was behind or not, I don’t really know. It certainly wasn’t much of anything, I didn’t really think, but as we’ve seen this year, that call decides games.”
Tom Fritsche opened the scoring for the Buckeyes at 10:52 in the first with help from Sean Collins and Nate Guenin. Cycling the puck in front of the Spartan net, Guenin passed from the far side of the right circle over to Collins at the top of the left circle; MSU goaltender Dominic Vicari dropped low and to the left to block a possible Collins shot, leaving Fritsche and half the Spartan net available. OSU led 1-0 after one.
It was Justin Abdelkader who scored on the second Spartan power play at 9:50 to even the game 1-1, a tic-tac-toe goal from Chris Mueller and Ethan Graham with a little screening help from Crowder.
Then at 10:04, just after the faceoff following Abdelkader’s goal, Tyler Howells beat OSU’s Tyson Strachan in the left corner to backhand a centering pass to Jim McKenzie, whose own backhanded shot from the slot jumped over the right skate of OSU goaltender Dave Caruso and into the net for the 2-1 Spartan lead.
Crowder’s penalty at 2:07 gave the Buckeyes the extra man for five minutes — and Kyle Hood the chance to show how patience can be a virtue. From the top of the slot, Hood pumped to shoot and drew Howells to ice level to block the shot, which never came. Hood threatened to shoot again, and this time Daniel Vukovic dropped to the ice to block yet another faked shot.
With two Spartans committed and prone, Hood fired at Vicari, who made the initial save but gave the rebound to Schembri, camped near the right post, and the Buckeyes tied it at 3:40.
That goal seemed to lift Ohio State for the remainder of the game. Schembri scored the game-winner at 17:16, even strength, crashing the net after receiving Mathieu Beaudoin’s feed from the left wing on the fly.
“I think it was a bit of a chess match out there,” said Markell. “We were off nine days, and they were off Friday and Saturday … and maybe we had a little bit more jump than they did.
“I thought in the second period, that they kind of took the momentum away from us when we had to kill off three penalties, and they scored one [on the power play]. Certainly in the third, I thought we came out with a little more jump.
“The guys talked about it in the dressing room. It was the exact position we’ve been in before. We talked ourselves into the way we played previously. Obviously, the five-minute penalty was a bit of a momentum changer. We were very fortunate to get a goal.”
Ohio State finished the night 1-for-3 on the power play, MSU 1-for-5. Caruso had 14 saves in his third win of the season; Vicari stopped 32, as the Buckeyes outshot the Spartans 35-16.
Next up for Michigan State is a home-and-home series with Western Michigan, Nov. 18-19. The Buckeyes are home the same nights against Lake Superior State.