COLUMBUS, Ohio – Michigan State kept Ohio State’s high-octane offense in check as Spartans goalie Jake Hildebrand saves 28 in a 1-1 draw versus the Buckeyes Saturday.
The Spartans earned an extra conference point by topping the Buckeyes in a postgame shootout, 3-2.
The Buckeyes earned four out of a possible six points over the weekend. The weekend served as a good litmus test for the two squads heading into the heart of Big Ten play.
“I am really impressed with Ohio State’s team, I think they have a real good team,” Michigan State coach Tom Anastos said. “There were parts of the game I liked last night but others that weren’t good enough. I thought we responded well as a whole and that is what we should expect in Big Ten hockey every game and every week.”
“That’s both nights in a row we’re down going into the third and we crawled back into it,” Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik said. “I think there are some real positives, but our team knows we have to get better.”
Matt Berry got the Spartans on the board 2:49 into the contest. That score held until Darik Angeli scored 8:10 into the third.
The contest was physical and brutal, as players were sacrificing their bodies. A total of 36 shots were blocked.
The Spartans needed a balance of blocking shots and good goaltending to keep the second-best scoring offense in the nation three goals below its season average.
“I thought our team really competed; it was a hard-fought game,” Anastos said. “(Blocking shots) was a big difference in our game; it is part of our identity. I think last night we had eight blocks and that is really low. Tonight, we had 19 and that is more like it. Guys were sacrificing themselves.”
A crowd of 8,068, a season high for the Buckeyes, pulsated with every check into the glass and blocked shot, and the abuse showed.
In the final minute of overtime, OSU’s Curtis Gedig fired a shot off the glove of Lee Reimer. Rather than taking refuge on the bench, a hobbled Reimer stayed on the ice, preventing the Buckeyes from winning with a goal.
“You have to pay for every inch out there,” Rohlik said. “You can get a little momentum going your way, and then they get momentum going their way but both teams played hard.”
Buckeyes goalie Matt Tomkins finished with 26 stops. It was Tomkins’ second start after missing two months with an ankle injury.
“He has played the price, he has worked awfully hard and he deserved a chance to get back in the net tonight,” Rohlik said of Tomkins.
Hildebrand credited his team for blocking shots and limiting OSU’s chances.
“A couple times, the puck got trapped in our zone and we didn’t panic,” he said. “We didn’t let passes go through and kept everything out on the perimeter.”
Berry’s goal came from the left circle through the five-hole of Tomkins. Tomkins appeared to be expecting a redirect from Michigan State’s Michael Ferra, rather than Berry’s shot to go straight through the crease.
Late in the second period, Ohio State drew back-to-back penalties from Brent Darnell and RJ Boyd. That allowed OSU to get 63 seconds of five-on-three play. Hilderbrand and the MSU defense turned away the Buckeyes’ scoring chances.
“They did a good job collapsing and blocking shots and getting in passing lanes,” Angeli said about OSU’s power-play chance in the second period. “Our power play had some shots and had great opportunities, but didn’t have a lucky bounce.”
After the OSU third line came at MSU with a strong forecheck, Ohio State forward Tyler Lundey forced a Michigan State turnover. After the loose puck went to Anthony Greco, he found Angeli all alone in the slot, who beat the glove of Hilderbrand to force overtime.