SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The No. 1 seed Ohio State men’s hockey team could not overcome an early deficit, falling to No. 3 seed Minnesota Duluth, 2-1, in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals Thursday in Xcel Energy Center. The Buckeyes, who end the year 26-10-5, were making the second Frozen Four appearance in program history and the first since 1998.
The Bulldogs will face the winner of the semifinal game between Big Ten schools Michigan and Notre Dame Saturday in the national championship.
Minnesota Duluth’s two goals came in the first 3:04 of the game. Louie Roehl tallied at 1:53 and Jared Thomas put the Bulldogs up 2-0. UMD controlled play in the first, outshooting the Buckeyes 17-4.
The teams were scoreless in the second. Ohio State had eight shots in the period, with UMD putting six on goal.
The Buckeyes drew within one at 9:27 of the third. With the Buckeyes on the power play, Wyatt Ege’s stick broke on a shot. The puck stayed in the zone, with Dakota Joshua helping maintain possession, and Tanner Laczynski picked it up off the scramble and scored from the high slot. Ohio State skated with the extra attacker with about two minutes remaining but could not get the equalizer. Shots were 8-5 in favor of OSU in the period.
Ohio State was outshot, 28-20, in the game. Buckeye goalie Sean Romeo had 26 saves in 57:48. UMD goalie Hunter Shepard had 19 stops in all 60 minutes. Romeo’s 2.06 goals-against average and .927 save percentage are both the third-best marks in program history, while his 22 saves are tied for second in a single year.
The Buckeyes blocked 16 shots in the game, led by Ege and Matt Joyaux with three each and Sasha Larocque and Gordi Myer with two apiece.
The Buckeyes converted 1-of-4 power play chances, putting eight shots on net, and killed both Bulldog opportunities with the man advantage. The Buckeye penalty kill leads the nation, stopping 89.4 percent of its opponent chances (the best since at least 1998-99). Ohio State finished the year 38-for-159 on the power play (.239), ranking in the Top 10 in the NCAA.
Laczynski ends the year with a team-high 47 points on 17 goals and 30 assists. Mason Jobst was second with 43 points, including a team-best 21 goals.
Ohio State’s defense limited opponents to 2.07 goals a game on the year, ranking third nationally and the lowest team goals-against average in program history. The previous best was the 2.21 goals allowed per game posted by the 2002-03 squad.
The game ended the career of six Buckeye seniors – Matt Joyaux, Christian Lampasso, Kevin Miller, Janik Moser, Luke Stork and Matthew Weis.