COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 6-ranked Ohio State men’s hockey team lost to No. 17 Penn State in a Big Ten Tournament semifinal game, 5-1, Sunday in Value City Arena. The Buckeyes, the tournament’s No. 1 seed, are now 20-10-5 this year, while the No. 4 seed Nittany Lions improve to 22-14-2 and move on to play No. 2 seed Notre Dame in the final next Saturday.
Ohio State awaits a possible bid to the 16-team NCAA Tournament. The selection show is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday (March 24) on ESPNU. The Buckeyes are looking to make their third consecutive appearance in the tournament.
Penn State 5, Ohio State 1
In the first … Penn State opened the scoring at 11:23 on a goal from Liam Folkes all alone in front. With less than a second left in the period a shot from Alex Limoges went up and over for a 2-0 PSU lead through 20 minutes. Shots were 12-9 in favor of Penn State in the period.
In the second … The lone goal of the stanza came on the power play at 14:52. The Buckeyes killed off 4:50 of a major, but Brandon Biro converted a pass from Evan Barratt with 10 seconds left in the advantage. The Nittany Lions had 14 shots in the period, with Ohio State putting nine on net. The Buckeyes had a goal waived off late in the period after video review showed the play was offside entering the zone.
In the third … Penn State pushed the lead to 4-0 at 2:22 of the third when Nate Sucese forced a turnover in the neutral zone and scored on the fly. The Buckeyes scored at 15:38, one second after a power play expired (and with the net empty for six skaters). Gordi Myer carried up the ice and found John Wiitala in the high slot for his ninth goal of the year. Penn State completed the scoring with 47 seconds left when Nate Sucese scored an empty net, shorthanded goal. The Buckeyes outshot the Nittany Lions, 14-10, in the period.
Shots … Penn State had the shot advantage, 36-32, in the game. Tommy Nappier had 31 saves in 55:40 for the Buckeyes. Peyton Jones made 31 stops in 60 minutes for PSU. Ohio State blocked 14 shots, led by Matt Miller with four and Sasha Larocque, Tommy Parran and Brendon Kearney with two each.
Special Teams … The Buckeyes were 0-for-4 on the power play. Penn State was 1-for-2, with its only chances on the major.
Steve Rohlik, Ohio State head coach
On the game overall
“I still thought we could win the game there right down to the end. We had a good start and once they got their first goal, it was a disappointing end to the first period. The last 10 minutes we had some bad turnovers. Penn State is a good hockey team and they capitalized.”
On the bye week as the No. 1 seed
“When you get playing, you want to keep going. We deserved last weekend off, it was good we didn’t have to play last weekend and battle it out. But we didn’t look sharp so it shows we had a week off.”
On moving forward
“We have a good hockey team in that lockerroom. We’ve played some really good hockey this year, but we weren’t at our best tonight. That’s something me and the rest of the coaching staff have to make sure we are prepared for two weeks from now. In the big picture, we’ve done enough in our body of work to be in the NCAA Tournament I believe. The disappointing thing is we had a chance to win another trophy.”
On regaining momentum heading into the NCAA Tournament
“There are 16 teams left in country [competing in the NCAA Tournament] and we are one of them. That’s the positive and at this point all we have to do is get rolling and to me over the next two weeks we are going to be positive and we are going to work hard and get prepared. Mason has been through this before, we have a lot of guys who have. If you would have told me in August that we would be part of a 16-team tournament to go after a national title, I would take it every day of the week.”
Mason Jobst, Ohio State senior forward
On adversity in the game
“Losing Sasha [Larocque] was a big blow when we only dressed six defensemen. I think there was only 10 seconds left on the 5-minute major so if we could have just kept it together a bit longer, it would have given us a boost of energy. We came so close to killing off that penalty, so that was disappointing. And obviously the disallowed goal was a heartbreaker. That goal would have been huge for us and given us a boost. But it’s time to move on and get ready for the NCAA Tournament.”