COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State Buckeyes got multi-point performances from seniors John Albert and Sergio Somma in a 4-2 victory over the Michigan State Spartans Saturday evening in Value City Arena.
“I thought even last night, (Somma) and Johnny (Albert) did a tremendous job last night” despite losing 2-0, Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki said. “They didn’t get rewarded with it from a scoring standpoint; they’re doing lots of good things right now. I think they’re feeding off each other.”
Ohio State “had more energy tonight,” Michigan State coach Rick Comley said. “They’re very good (senior) players. They are excellent on faceoffs, and they’re good players that are experienced.”
Albert assisted on all four Ohio State goals, and Somma scored a pair, including the eventual game-winner at 4:05 of the third. Albert has a team-leading 31 points this season. Ohio State’s four-game losing streak came to a close. Osiecki thought the mindset of the team going into the game was probably ‘fragile.’
“All of a sudden, you’re working your rear ends off, they’re doing everything you ask; they’re not scoring goals,” he said. “That is just the way hockey is. If you’re not scoring goals, all of a sudden you’re squeezing a little bit, playing a little bit different.”
After posting a shutout last night against the Buckeyes, Spartans goalie Will Yanakeff allowed three goals on 38 shots against. He was opposed by Cal Heeter, who stopped 26-of-28.
Michigan State’s power play struggled, going 0-for-5 and allowing a short-handed goal at 4:30 of the second to give the Buckeyes a 2-1 lead. Buckeyes forward C.J. Severyn intercepted a Spartans’ pass that led to a two-on-one break with Albert.
“I think we did a good job talking down low,” Albert said. “We have a three-plus-one mentality on the PK. I thought we did a great job of it, and C.J. made a nice job passing it, taking it wide and get it back to the net.”
“The overall game was better tonight; last night’s game was a little bit choppy,” Comley said. “It was a good game, it was up and down. We didn’t give up a five-on-five goal. At the end, we had chances to tie it.”
Michigan State had a pair of power plays in the final 10 minutes of the third, but was unable to convert.
“The penalty kill was good,” Osiecki said. “We were fortunate on a couple bounces, but that happens. The best thing about it was we were extremely aggressive. I think we finally have an understanding of the terminology that we’re talking about, being aggressive.
“Just being aggressive, the guys understand that, they’re seeing that, they’re feeling that. Cal (Heeter) made some great saves. We scored a short-handed goal, could have had scored another one.”
Michigan State took a 1-0 lead 5:55 into the first as Dean Chelios scored his fifth of the season when his shot beat the stick of Heeter.
Ohio State knotted the game at 1:50 of the second on its third power play of the game. Somma took a loose puck that went off Spartans forward Derek Grant and fired the shot past the glove of Yanakeff.
Ohio State entered the third period up 2-1. Michigan State is 0-11-1 when trailing at the second intermission.
“I think since Christmas, the third period has been our best period,” Comley said. “I am not sure if we have come back or not come back, but we have scored a lot. With this young team, two months ago that was a game we would have probably lose by five or six the way it went. There is learning and growing, and they certainly haven’t peaked yet.”
Somma scored his second of the game 4:05 into the third on a delayed penalty, as he skated in on Yanakeff from the left circle and beat his glove on the far post with a backhander.
The Spartans got within one at 7:29 of the third when Dustin Gazley stole the puck after two Buckeyes collided into each other and he had an unassisted breakaway, beating the glove of Heeter.
Ohio State’s Cory Schneider sealed the Buckeyes’ victory by scoring a breakaway empty-net goal with 2.2 seconds left in the game.