Icers Drop Shootout To MSU

The Ohio State men's hockey team fell short of completing the sweep Saturday night but did earn a point in the Big Ten standings with a 1-1 tie and shootout loss to Michigan State in front of a season-high crowd in Value City Arena.

Ohio State struggled to score against a determined Michigan State team and despite another third-period comeback had to settle for a 1-1 tie before losing the shootout Saturday before a season-high crowd of 8,068 at Value City Arena.

Still, the Buckeyes took four out of possible six points in the two-game Big Ten series after rallying from a 3-2 deficit for a 5-3 win on Friday.

In the rematch, Matt Berry gave the Spartans (6-10-3, 0-2-2-2 Big Ten) a 1-0 lead in the first period before Darik Angeli equalized in the third for the Buckeyes, who had a three-game winning streak snapped.

The game was so tight that even the shootout went three extra frames as Tanner Sorenson scored in the sixth round before MSU goalie Jake Hildebrand denied Angeli for the 3-2 decision.

MSU earned two points while the Buckeyes were awarded one in the standings.

"Both nights we were down in the third and clawed back in it," OSU coach Steve Rohlik said. "There's some real positive signs. Our team knows we've got to get better."

The shootout was packed with drama. The Buckeyes trailed 2-1 in the bottom of third round and Tanner Fritz appeared to have his shot saved by Hildebrand to give the Spartans the shootout win. The goalie thought he had knocked the puck away from the goal but as he started to skate out of the crease the puck oozed past him into the net.

"I got a stick on it," Hildebrand said. "I thought it slid of my stick toward the right and it apparently ramped up off my pad and trickled it. It was a tough one."

Then MSU's Joe Cox scored in the next frame but Ohio State freshman Nick Schilkey countered. In the fifth, OSU freshman goalie Matt Tomkins stopped Brent Darnell, allowing Nick Oddo a chance to win it for the Buckeyes (11-5-1, 1-2-1-0) but he shot wide, setting up Sorenson's winner.

The five-minute overtime was also a pressure cooker as a turnover led to three chances for the Spartans in the first 10 seconds but Tomkins was strong. He finished with 26 saves in his second straight start after missing two months with an ankle sprain.

Hildebrand (28 saves) was under siege the final 90 seconds of OT but his teammates made several blocks and held tight.

"I wasn't pleased with how I played (Friday)," Hildebrand said. "I wanted to come back and do better for the team."

The difference for the Spartans came down to blocking shots. They had 19, 11 more than Friday.

"That might have been as a good a job of blocking shots as we've done all year," MSU captain Greg Wolfe said. "We were clogging up the lanes."

The Buckeyes were frustrated for 48 minutes before tying the score at 1 when the Spartans' taut defense suddenly sprung a leak, affording Anthony Greco the opportunity to spot an unmarked Angeli in the low slot.

Angeli didn't waste the gift and buried the shot for his fifth goal.

That Michigan State had the lead after two periods was not a surprise. It figured that the Spartans would come out fired up after losing Friday and they delivered when Berry (who had two goals and an assist in the first game) scored at 2:49 of the first.

"We were a lot harder to play against tonight," Wolfe said. "We had a lot of jump. Scoring the goal helped us out a ton."

But in an upset, that stood as the only goal through 40 minutes as MSU stymied the second-most potent attack in the nation that boasted a gaudy 4.00 goals scored per game. The Buckeyes had scored at least three goals in 10 consecutive games.

Yet, they were blanked through two periods for only the third time this season.

The first was the season opener Oct. 11 when OSU trailed Miami (Ohio) University 2-0 and eventually lost 6-2. In Game No. 7 on Nov. 1 the Buckeyes trailed Minnesota Duluth 2-0 en route to a 3-1 defeat.

Angeli said the Buckeyes weren't frustrated by the lack of scoring.

"We tried to stick to the game plan, get pucks to the net and keep grinding down low and get pucks behind their D men," he said. "Hats off to them. They played real well defensively. It's the Big Ten. It's going to be tough every game."

Ohio State had a golden opportunity to tie or go ahead of the Spartans late in the second period when it had a two-man advantage for 63 seconds. But despite keeping the puck in the offensive zone for nearly the whole time, the Spartans closed the lanes and blocked several attempts while allowing only one shot on goal.

"We were able to build off the 3-on-5 and take some momentum away from them, which was huge," Wolfe said.

In fact, even with five combined power plays between them, the teams managed only nine total shots in the second period with the Spartans registering six. That was in contrast to the freewheeling first when OSU had 15 of the 25 shots.

"It was a hard fought game," MSU coach Tom Anastos said. "I'm really impressed with Ohio State's team. They have a really good team."

Four games into the new hockey conference, the Buckeyes are learning how tough points are to come by. In their first two games they lost in overtime to Michigan then were beaten by the Wolverines in the final minute.

"It's going to be a broken record every weekend," Rohlik said. "Michigan State's a great team then we've got to turn around and play Minnesota, then turn around and play Wisconsin. It's going to make our players better, and make us coaches better."

Ohio State next plays Friday at Minnesota in the Hockey City Classic and it will be played outdoors in TCF Bank Stadium. The second game will be the following night indoors at Mariucci Arena.

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