COLUMBUS, Ohio – With two goals from Sergio Somma and four primary assists from John Albert, the Ohio State men’s hockey team defeated Michigan State, 4-2, Saturday night in Value City Arena. The win gives the Buckeyes, now 14-13-2 on the year (9-11-2-2 CCHA) a series split with the Spartans (12-14-4, 8-12-2-0).
The game marked the inaugural Teddy Bear Toss for the Ohio State hockey program and Buckeye fans threw more than 500 bears onto the ice after Somma’s early second-period goal. All bears collected will be delivered by the Buckeye players to Ronald McDonald House.
The Buckeyes were down 1-0 after the first period but scored twice in the second for a 2-1 lead. The Buckeyes extended the lead to 3-1 early in the third period but Michigan State scored to draw within one. An empty-net goal with just 2.2 seconds remaining sealed the win for the Buckeyes.
Michigan State scored the only goal of the first period. Dean Chelios scored from a sharp angle at 5:55 with Heeter out of position. Shots were 13-9 in favor of Ohio State in the stanza and the Buckeyes had the only power-play chance.
Ohio State scored twice in the second to lead 2-1 after 40 minutes. Somma scored just 1:50 into the period – bringing hundreds of teddy bears raining onto the ice – as he tallied from the slot. Albert and Danny Dries assisted on the goal, his team-high ninth power-play tally of the year. At 4:30 with the Buckeyes killing a penalty C.J. Severyn intercepted the puck and started the rush up ice. He left the puck for Albert who skated down the right side and was able to beat the defender’s stick with a pass and hit Severyn who was crashing the net and directed it in. The teams combined for 26 shots in the period, with Heeter stopping all 12 Spartan attempts. Each team had two power-play chances in the period – MSU was 0-for-2 and OSU was 1-for-2.
Just 4:05 into the third period Ohio State took a 3-1 lead when Somma scored on a delayed penalty. Hard work down low from the line of Somma, Albert and Boyd created the scoring chance, with Somma finishing from the side of the net. At 7:29 the Spartans again cut the lead to one (3-2) when Dustin Gazely picked up a loose puck and skated in alone on Heeter, converting the breakaway. The final goal came at 19:57 when Albert got the puck near the Buckeye blueline and led Cory Schneider into the Spartan zone where he scored into the empty net. He was pulled down on the play, drawing a penalty as well. The Buckeyes outshot Michigan State, 12-7, in the period. The Buckeye PK was perfect in the stanza, including stopping a chance with less than five minutes remaining after a too many men on the ice call.
Ohio State outshot Michigan State, 39-28, in the game. Heeter ended the contest with 26 saves while playing 59:56. Will Yanakeff had 35 stops in 58:57 for the Spartans.
The Buckeyes were 1-for-6 on the power play and held the Spartans scoreless on five chances, going a perfect 9-for-9 on the penalty kill in the series.
Ohio State returns to action with two games at Michigan next weekend. The teams will meet at 7:35 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with both games televised on Big Ten Network.
Albert’s outing was the second game of his career with four assists and points; the first was Jan. 8, 2010 vs. Bowling Green. He now has a team-high 31 points and 20 assists on the year and has reached 121 points as a Buckeye. It is his third career 30-point season.
Somma had the seventh two-goal game of his career and first since Dec. 11 at Bowling Green. He has a team-best and career-high tying 15 goals this year. Nine of his goals are on the power play to lead the squad and the CCHA. He has 96 points as a Buckeye, including 49 goals.
The game ended the Buckeyes’ season-high four-game losing streak. It was the most goals since a 6-1 win over Notre Dame Jan. 21.
For the weekend, Heeter had a 1.52 goals-against average and .942 save percentage. He leads the nation in minutes played (1714:14) and is third with 772 saves.
Mark Osiecki, Ohio State head coach
On the team’s play
“This was a redemption game for us — we deserve better as a team. I tell the guys we have to come out and play desperate. Overall, a great team effort tonight.”
On the Buckeyes’ special teams play
“The penalty kill was good tonight, we were aggressive and I think we understand now the terminology of aggressiveness. We did a good job of pushing the pace on the penalty kill.”
On OSU’s power play
“We still have to get that clicking. People think you should score every time on the power play, but it’s harder than you think.”
Sergio Somma, senior forward
On the importance of the win to the seniors
“It was definitely important for all of us. I thought we played good hockey. We were going through a little bit of a rough patch last night and last week, but we ended up getting the win.”
On competing against Michigan State goalie Will Yanakeff
“I think we did a better job tonight at getting rebounds and putting them back on net. I think we were able to be in his face a little more.”
On the Buckeyes’ game tying goal in the second period
“I’m glad we scored a goal as a team. I think we were struggling at getting goals in the net, so when it went in it was a big monkey off our backs.”
John Albert, Ohio State senior forward
On the offensive effort
“Tonight was a lot better. All you need is one lucky bounce — you don’t know what’s going to happen, but we ended up getting lucky on our shots on net.”
Rick Comley, Michigan State head coach
On the Spartans’ 0-5 effort on the power play
“They [Ohio State] had a lot to do with it. Their guys stepped up, played with energy, and blocked a lot of shots.”
On Ohio State’s offensive adjustments for the game
“As coaches, we like to think that small tweaks here and there make a big difference, but it really comes down to effort and energy. They played with more energy tonight than they did last night, and it made a difference on the offensive end.”