COLUMBUS, Ohio – Three unanswered goals, capped by freshman Alex Szczechura’s overtime winner, led the Ohio State men’s hockey team to a 4-3 OT win over No. 16 Michigan State Friday in Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing, Mich. The Buckeyes trailed 2-1 after the first and 3-1 after the second but had goals from freshman Chris Crane and junior Danny Dries in the third to deadlock the score. Szczechura had the winner, his second goal of the game, with assists to Curtis Gedig and Peter Boyd, who won a draw in the MSU zone to start the play.
“Our team is good if we take care of the puck,” Buckeye head coach Mark Osiecki said. “That’s where our forwards are at their best and I thought eventually we started doing that a little better.”
The Buckeyes (5-5, 2-3-0-0 CCHA) and Spartans (3-3-3, 1-3-1-0) will wrap up the weekend series at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
“What I’m pleased with is the response after the first period,” Osiecki said. “The first intermission, we challenged our leadership, and I’m very pleased with how they responded to that.”
The Spartans led 2-1 after the first period. Michigan State took the lead just 4:17 into the game on Mike Merrifield’s power-play goal. At 15:10 Buckeye senior Sergio Somma stole a pass in center ice and sent Szczechura into the Spartans zone. The rookie connected, giving him a goal in three-consecutive games. Just 3:10 later the Spartans regained the lead when Derek Grant scored on a wraparound. The Spartans controlled play for much of the period and outshot Ohio State, 14-7.
The Spartans extended the lead to 3-1 when Jake Chelios’ shot went off a Buckeye and in with MSU on the power play at 8:40 of the middle period. The teams combined for 30 shots in the stanza, as Ohio State peppered the Spartan net with 19 shots.
Just 1:53 into the third period a misplay by the Spartan goalie gave the puck to Crane in the MSU zone and he tallied his third of the year unassisted to draw Ohio State within one. At 9:16 Dries deflected a Sims’ slap shot from the point to knot the score, with Devon Krogh on the second assist. Each team had chances down the stretch but regulation ended tied and Ohio State went to overtime for the first time this season. Ohio State outshot Michigan State, 11-8, in the period.
In overtime, Peter Boyd won a faceoff deep in the MSU zone back to Curtis Gedig at the point. His shot deflected off a Spartan defender and went to Szczechura in the slot. He gathered the puck, spun and scored with the MSU goalie out of position.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played in front of that many fans in my life, so scoring a goal like that was pretty exciting for me,” Szczechura said. “I was just sitting out front and the puck bounced to me and I put it in. It was pretty simple.”
The Buckeyes outshot the Spartans, 39-34, in the contest. Junior goalie Cal Heeter had 31 saves in 61:23, while Drew Palmisano had 35 stops in 61:23 for the Spartans.
The Spartans won the special teams battle, converting both power play chances and holding the Buckeyes scoreless on six opportunities.
Postgame Notes The win was the Buckeyes’ first in overtime since a victory in game two of a CCHA quarterfinal series at Miami last season. It was the Buckeyes’ first overtime game of the year.
Szczechura had a career-high two goals and his second two-point game of the year. He is on a four-game point streak (4-2-6) and three-game goal streak.
Somma extended his point streak to four. He leads the team with 11 points, including a team-best six goals.
Crane has goals in back-to-back games in points in three straight (2-2-4).
Sims is on a four-game point streak (0-4-4).