FARGO, N.D. – The Ohio State men’s hockey team lost to Denver, 2-0, Friday in an NCAA Tournament West Regional game in Scheels Arena. The No. 3 seed Buckeyes, who were making their third consecutive NCAA appearance, end the season 20-11-5. No. 2 seed Denver (23-11-5) will meet the winner of the game between St. Cloud State and American International at 9 p.m. ET Saturday for a spot in the Frozen Four.
The game was the last for eight Buckeye seniors – Freddy Gerard, Mason Jobst, Dakota Joshua, Brendon Kearney, Sasha Larocque, Tommy Parran, Sean Romeo and John Wiitala. The group was just the second Buckeye senior class to make three NCAA trips and was part of 81 wins over the last four years, with three straight 20-win seasons, a trip to the NCAA Frozen Four in 2018 and the 2019 Big Ten regular season championship.
Denver 2, Ohio State 0
The teams were scoreless after the first period and the Pioneers got on the board in the final minute of the second. Denver added an empty net goal for the 2-0 final. Ohio State held Denver to just 13 shots, while putting 24 on the DU net.
In the first … There were no goals in the first period. Ohio State outshot the Pioneers, 12-5, including the last seven shots on goal in the period. The Buckeyes had the first power play, but it was shortened by an Ohio State penalty. Ohio State had a full chance late in the period but was unable to convert.
In the second … At 19:20, the Pioneers got on the board. The Buckeyes were unable to break out, with the Pioneers getting the puck just outside the blue line. Emilio Pettersen found Les Lancaster coming down the right side and he scored from the faceoff circle. On the next shift, Dakota Joshua drew a penalty deep in the DU zone to put the Buckeyes on the power play for the final 15 seconds, with the chance carrying into the third.
In the third … The Buckeyes were unable to take advantage of the extra man chance to start the period. Ohio State had a second power play chance midway through the period as well. With time running down, the Buckeyes pulled their goalie for the extra attacker. Denver won a faceoff in its zone and was able to clear, with Colin Staub sending the puck down the ice into the empty net, with the shot the Pioneers’ only shot on goal in the period. Ohio State had five shots in the third. The Buckeye PK killed one chance at 7:12 to keep it a one-goal game.
Shots … Ohio State outshot Denver, 24-13. Tommy Nappier had 11 saves in 58:19 for the Buckeyes. The Big Ten Goaltender of the Year ends the season with a 1.86 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. His gaa is the lowest in a single season in program history, while his save percentage is second, behind the .935 posted by Brady Hjelle in 2013. In his career, Nappier has a 1.76 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in 26 games, both the lowest in program history.
Special Teams … Ohio State was unable to score on four power play chances in the game and held Denver scoreless on three chances.
Buckeye This and That … Senior Mason Jobst, the fifth Hobey Baker Award finalist in program history, ends the season as the team leader in goals (17) and points (36). He is tied for 12th in Ohio State history with 164 career points, the most for a Buckeye since 1989. The game vs. Denver was the 150th of his career (the first Buckeye with 150 since 2011), leading current Buckeyes in career games played … junior Tanner Laczynski had a team-high 20 assists and was second with 30 points on the year … Ohio State was making the ninth NCAA appearance in program history and the second in the West Regional in Fargo … the Buckeyes were shut out for the first time since Dec. 2, 2017 vs. Penn State.
Ohio State Head Coach Steve Rohlik Postgame Quotes
On his earlier statement that the team that scored first would likely win
You can see why, both teams play so structured, they don’t give up much. It’s always tough to chase from behind. And even though they scored the first goal, we still felt confident but obviously they blocked a lot of shots, the goaltender played well, and they’re pretty stingy. So anytime you score that first goal that always puts pressure on that D you know, you’ve got to score two to win.
On being eager to get on the ice after a long layoff
Our guys did exactly what I thought they would do. We had a great last two weeks. Our guys competed. They knew exactly what was at stake. We were prepared, and it just didn’t bounce our way tonight. Tip your cap to Denver and they did what they needed to do, but certainly disappointing for our guys.
On Denver’s recent games of being outshot but finding ways to win
It felt like Groundhog’s Day. Really, I mean, they found the recipe for success. And that’s to hang in games, they play with great speed and they play above the park, so they don’t give you a lot. That’s why it was, for us, to have two breakaways in the game, kind of uncharacteristic for them. But we had a couple breakaways there, but that’s exactly how they play and then when it does get to the net, you see what happens and they obviously have two very good goalies and the kid was very good tonight.
On how hard it is to say goodbye to a special group
I think it puts in perspective what you just heard Sasha talk about. The reason why you go to Ohio State, you have a chance to play in the national tournament have a chance to get an unbelievable degree. And that’s what makes it hard to see seniors go– the culture that they created. Knowing that we had a pretty good team this year; we went through a struggle here with guys missing over the last couple months, but you can see what our team could be. But, I’m just really proud. Proud of our University, proud of our student-athletes to do something that hasn’t been done in 50 years to raise that banner and have a chance to play in our third national tournament in a row, you feel very fortunate, very lucky.