EAST LANSING, Mich. — Trailing 1-0 to Michigan State after the first period, Ohio State responded with two unanswered goals in the second – including Tyler Lundey’s game winner with a little over a minute remaining in the period – to pull ahead of the Spartans and eventually win 3-1, earning a weekend road sweep in the process.
“Hockey, top to bottom, the parity is unbelievable right now,” said OSU coach Mark Osiecki. “Sweeps are hard. Obviously a really talented team across the way, coached unbelievably well. Our guys had a couple of opportunities early in the game [but] they scored first and had us on our heels and our guys battled through.”
Lundey had two goals on the night, including an empty-net goal that required actual work. Tanner Fritz had the first goal for OSU in the second period and the only goal for the Buckeyes in Friday night’s 1-0 win. Fritz made the cross-crease assist that led to Lundey’s second goal tonight.
“He’s been solid and he’s played himself into hockey shape,” Osiecki said of Fritz. “He’s a big lumberjack-wide body. He’s strong and he’ll eventually evolve and that’ll come with maturity.
“You throw him out there at the end four-on-six, he wins a couple faceoffs and he makes a heck of a play to Lundey on that empty-net goal. He’s coming.”
Every goal in tonight’s game took work.
Play was even in the first period except for the scoring, a hard-fought goal by MSU’s Chris Forfar at 9:20, his first of the season. Forfar threaded three OSU defenders at the blue line, skated in alone and shot at goaltender Brady Hjelle, hitting the senior’s stick hand. The puck trickled in past Hjelle for the early lead.
On Fritz’s goal at 6:50 in the second, OSU’s Matt Johnson fought through the MSU defense in the left circle and tapped the puck to Fritz in front of the net.
Toward the end of the period, it was Alex Szczechura who worked the puck down low by the right corner, drawing Spartan goaltender Jake Hildebrand to the near side to defend before Szczechura rifled a centering pass to Lundey at 18:55 for the score.
When Tanner and Lundey combined for the empty-net goal, they broke in two-on-one with MSU captain Greg Wolfe attempting to break up the play. Tanner shuffled left to Lundey, who had to get the puck past Wolfe for the tally at 19:39.
“Actually, I thought our team played better than we did last night and I was fairly satisfied with most of our game last night, but we didn’t get the kind of result we’re looking for,” said MSU coach Tom Anastos. “I give Ohio State credit. They play real well the way they play and we just couldn’t seem to score some goals. We’ve got to figure that out.
“Tonight, I thought we played a pretty good game and we make a couple of mistakes, and they were big ones, and they took advantage of that, and we were unable to respond to that.”
Hjelle made 22 saves in the win, his fifth of the season, and 54 saves in the series.
“He made some really nice saves,” said Osiecki. “Take the saves away and I think his play with the puck – he got out and made plays with the puck. When he’s doing that, he’s confident and it helps us get out of the zone. You can’t stress it enough when you can play with confidence because of the goaltender behind you.”
Hildebrand had 21 saves in the loss.