March 3, 2018

No. 6 Buckeyes Advance to Big Ten Tournament Semifinals with OT Win over Michigan State

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March 3, 2018

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio state men’s hockey team advanced to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals with a 4-3 overtime win over Michigan State Saturday in Value City Arena. Buckeye junior Freddy Gerard notched the OT winner for a second straight win over the Spartans to clinch the quarterfinal best-of-three series. The Buckeyes won the series opener, 6-2.

Ohio State, ranked sixth and the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, is now 23-8-5 on the year. The team is on a four-game winning streak and is 5-1-1 in its last seven games.

Buckeyes vs. Wolverines in Semifinal Game Saturday in Columbus
With the win, the No. 2 seed Buckeyes will host a single elimination semifinal game in the Big Ten Tournament Saturday, taking on No. 3 Michigan at 7:30 p.m. in Nationwide Arena in Columbus. The Wolverines swept Wisconsin to advance.

Tickets to the game, $20 for adults and $15 for youth/child, will go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. Monday. Tickets can be purchased online through OhioStateBuckeyes.com or at the Schottenstein Center or Nationwide Arena ticket office. Ohio State students are free with a valid BuckID. Groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets ($13 each) through the Ohio State athletic ticket sales office by calling 1-800-GOBUCKS (option 2).

No. 1 seed Notre Dame, which had a first round bye, will host No. 4 seed Penn State, which beat Minnesota, in the other semifinal game. The highest remaining seed from the semifinals will host the Big Ten Tournament championship game March 17.

🔥🔥 Highlights from tonight’s 4-3 OT win to advance to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals! #GoBucks pic.twitter.com/2TGrjc04qG

— Ohio State M Hockey (@OhioState_MHKY) March 4, 2018

Ohio State 4, Michigan State 3 OT – The Short Story
The Buckeyes and Spartans were tied after the first, second and third periods. Ohio State opened the scoring with a power play goal from Mason Jobst at 11:09 of the first period, but the Spartans responded with a power play goal of their own with 27 seconds left in the stanza to send the teams into intermission tied at one. Each team scored twice in the second, with Michigan State going ahead twice and the Buckeyes answering each time. Jobst and John Wiitala lit the lamp for the Buckeyes in the second. Neither team scored in the third, with Ohio State outshooting the Spartans in the period, 15-6.

In overtime, Buckeye junior defenseman Sasha Larocque kept a clearing attempt in at the blueline. He put a shot toward the net and junior Freddy Gerard was able to get his stick on it to redirect it past the Spartan goaltender.

This is the fourth time in five years of the Big Ten Tournament Ohio State and Michigan State met in the quarterfinals. After three Buckeye wins (with two in overtime) when it was a single game, Ohio State notched two victories this weekend to win the series and advance to the semifinals for the fifth straight year.

After the 4-3 OT win, Coach Rohlik, Freddy Gerard and Mason Jobst spoke about the victory and moving on to the semifinals. #GoBucks pic.twitter.com/Tfb3d3zkom

— Ohio State M Hockey (@OhioState_MHKY) March 4, 2018

Quoting the Buckeyes
Steve Rohlik, head coach
On the game
“First and foremost, tip your cap to Michigan State. They left it on the line tonight. They’re a good hockey team, and we knew we had to bring our best. It’s tough to end a team’s season. I was telling our guys today, ‘How would we feel if our season was on the line today? How would we come out?’ Again, a lot of credit to Michigan State. But our guys in the room, they believe in the culture and in what we are trying to do. I thought we played a complete game tonight. It was good to get the win and to move on in the tournament.”

Freddy Gerard, junior forward
On the game winning goal
“He (Larocque) made a great play. For a second I was worried the puck was going to get out of the zone and I was going to have to work hard to get back in the neutral zone, but he kept it in. I saw him throw it chest high and I was like, ‘I’m going to try and get a stick on this.’ Fortunately I did, and I was able to look back over my shoulder and watch it cross the goal line.”

Mason Jobst, Ohio State junior forward
On the mindset heading into overtime
“With this group, there was never a doubt in my mind we were going to come out with that win.”

On his play in recent games, with 10 points in his last four games combined
”Obviously I am feeling good, I’m in great shape right now. My linemates have been great at finding me in soft spots, and it has been working out.”

In the First Period
The Buckeyes opened the scoring for the 19th time this season, tallying on the first power play chance of the game at 11:09. Wyatt Ege led Matthew Weis up the ice. Weis found Mason Jobst as he slipped behind the Spartan defenders and he was able to score on a backhand from all alone in front.

The Spartans tied the game at 19:33 of the period, as they converted with the man advantage. Cody Milan scored for Michigan State.

Ohio State outshot Michigan State in the period, 12-6.

In the Second Period
Michigan State took a one-goal lead twice in the period. Just 29 seconds into the stanza Patrick Khodorenko scored on the rush for a 2-1 Spartan advantage.

At 7:43 Jobst scored his second of the night. From the halfwall, Brendon Kearney found Jobst in the high slot and his wrist shot went through for a 2-2 game. Just 22 seconds later Tommy Apap put Michigan State up for the second time, 3-2.

On the next goal, Jobst was able to corral the puck in the neutral zone. He put a shot on net that the Spartan goalie was unable to control. John Wiitala was there for the rebound and he put it home at 11:22, tying the game at three.

Ohio State again had 12 shots in the period, holding the Spartans to five.

In the Third Period
Neither team scored in the third, with Ohio State outshooting Michigan State, 15-6. No penalties were called in the stanza.

In Overtime
Buckeye goalie Sean Romeo made an early save in the extra stanza and the MSU goalie made a stop on the first shot he faced.

On the winner, defenseman Sasha Larocque kept the puck in at the blue line and floated a shot toward the Spartan net. Freddy Gerard was able to redirect it past the Spartan goalie and it slid over the line at 5:53 for the Buckeye victory.

Blocking the Puck
Ohio State outshot Michigan State, 42-18, in the game. Buckeye goalie Sean Romeo had 15 saves in 65:53, improving his record to 19-8-5 on the year. He has a 2.08 goals-against average and .925 save percentage this season, ranking in the Top 12 in the NCAA in both categories.

Spartan starter John Lethemon made 38 saves in 65:52.

Ohio State blocked nine Spartan shot attempts, led by Sasha Larocque and Matt Miller with two each.

The Buckeyes are in the Top 5 in the NCAA in team defense, allowing 2.08 goals per game. The three goals ended a streak of seven games the squad allowed two or fewer goals.

Special Teams
Each team was 1-for-2 with the man advantage in the game.

The Buckeyes have a power play goal in 13 of the last 17 games, with multiple goals in eight of those outings. The squad is 34-for-144 (.236) on the year, ranking in the Top 10 in the NCAA.

The power play goal was the first allowed by the Buckeyes in six games. The squad leads the NCAA on the penalty kill, stopping 115-of-127 (.906) of its opponents’ chances. The team is averaging 8.8 penalty minutes a game this season, the fourth-lowest average nationally, and has two penalties in each of the last three games.

Buckeye This and That
• Ohio State is 2-0-5 in overtime this season.
Mason Jobst had multiple points for the fourth straight game and has a 5-5-10 line in the four games combined. He has 41 points this season, sharing the team point lead, with 19 goals and 22 assists. It is his second straight year with 40+ points after a team-best 55 a season ago.
Wyatt Ege and Brendon Kearney both extending their point streaks to four games with an assist, with six points in the stretch each. Ege has 15 assists and points on the year, while Kearney has a 4-12-16 line.
• The Buckeyes had 40 shots for the eighth time this year and the second straight night. Michigan State was held to 38 shots on goal in the two games combined, with 20 Friday and 18 Saturday.
Freddy Gerard has a career-best 11 goals on the year.
• In all, six Buckeyes have double digit goals.
John Wiitala had a goal in each game vs. Michigan State and is on a three-game point streak. He has 18 points, with eight goals and 10 assists, on the year.