COLUMBUS, Ohio — The No. 10 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes’ 2012 meltdown has reached epic proportions.
After holding a 3-1 first-intermission lead over Michigan State, the visiting Spartans responded with five unanswered goals in the final 30 minutes of Friday’s game to defeat Ohio State 6-3.
“Not quite the start we had worked all week on, so we had to regroup at the end of the first period,” Michigan State coach Tom Anastos said. “Our effort was much better and I thought our defensive effort was much better in that second period.”
“We handed the puck over a couple times and it cost us,” said Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki. “We had 44 shots on net, some good looks at the net, up 3-1, certainly did a lot of good things. We got to eliminate the few mistakes we make because every time we make a mistake right now, it is in the back of the net.”
The once top-ranked team in the PairWise rankings, Ohio State fell to 0-5-4 in 2012 and has yet to win at home since Dec. 3 against Lake Superior State. Michigan State broke its three-game winless streak.
“I think it is pretty positive,” said OSU captain Cory Schneider about the locker room atmosphere. “I thought we worked hard tonight, we competed. Michigan State was able to take advantage of their opportunities, especially more than we were, but we have to keep moving forward and keep working hard and we’ll turn this thing around.”
Ohio State played a glorious first period outshooting the Spartans 19-10 and getting goals from Alex Lippincott, Max McCormick and Ryan Dzingel.
Michigan State’s lone tally came from Dean Chelios.
“It was a little bit of a wake up call in the first when they get a goal within the first minute of the game and a couple others after that,” Chelios said. “We came out of the locker room and had good spirit.”
Michigan State started its rally 10:26 into the second when A.J. Sturges’ shot deflected off Ohio State defender Devon Krogh’s skate and past OSU goalie Brady Hjelle. Michigan State tied the game at three less than five minutes later as captain Torey Krug picked off Lippincott’s clearing attempt and fired a shot through the five hole of Hjelle.
“We have a saying that ‘if you want the cookies, you have to go to the hard areas,’” Krug said. “We threw the puck at the crease and we want guys to crash the net and cause some chaos in there.”
Matt Crandell gave the Spartans their eventual game-winner in the final minute of the second period as he converted on a rebound opportunity. All three Spartans goal-scorers in the second period were defensemen.
“I was real proud of our guys, they really responded,” Anastos said. “We challenged them a bit at the end of the first period and they did a little soul searching to figure out what it takes for us to be a good team. I just thought the [OSU first period] goals went in too easy and we have to compete hard all the time.”
The Spartans had four goals on 19 shots in the first two periods which chased Hjelle. Osiecki turned to Cal Heeter to right the ship, but he was unable to do so.
“I didn’t think Brady was very good,” Osiecki said. “It is pretty simple. It looked like he was fighting the puck. I thought early on where he made a semi-breakaway save that would settle him down, but then he fought the puck from here on out.”
Michigan State added a pair of insurance goals in the third. Chris Forfar scored 14:15 into the third to give the Spartans a 5-3 advantage. The Spartans sealed the game on a Matt Berry empty-net goal in the final two minutes.
Michigan State turned up the defense Friday as it had 21 blocked shots compared to seven for Ohio State.
“We stuck with the process,” Krug said. “Coach talked about doing the little plays, chipping the puck deep, and we saw it out of our third and fourth lines.”
Michigan State won the special teams battle as it went 1-for-3 on the man-advantage. Ohio State was 0-for-6.