No. 15 Buckeyes Win 3-2 for Sweep of Spartans
Ohio State improves to 18-7-1 overall, tied for first place in the Big Ten
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 15 Ohio State men’s hockey team headed home from East Lansing with six Big Ten points, posting a 3-2 win Saturday over Michigan State for a sweep of the weekend series.
The Buckeyes led 1-0 after the first period and 2-0 early in the second. The Spartans made it a one-goal game but a tally in the final minute of the second pushed Ohio State’s lead back to two. Michigan State again drew within one as it scored with the extra attacker late, but the Buckeyes held on for the win. Georgii Merkulov had a team-best two goals, Cam Thiesing had a goal and an assist and Mason Lohrei and Quinn Preston both had two assists for the Buckeyes, while goalie Jakub Dobeš had 40 saves.
The Buckeyes, 9-1-1 in their last 11 games, are now 18-7-1 on the year and 10-5-1-0-1-1 in the Big Ten, tied with Michigan for first place in the league. Michigan State is 11-14-1 and 5-11-0-1-0-0 in B1G play. Ohio State won the season series with the Spartans, 3-1, with victories in the last three matchups.
Ohio State will play two games at Penn State next weekend, with puck drop at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Pegula Ice Arena in State College, Pa. The games will be streamed through B1G Plus and on Ohio State Radio.
A four-game homestand follows to close out Ohio State’s regular season home slate. The Buckeyes will host Wisconsin Feb. 4-5 and Minnesota Feb. 11-12 in Value City Arena in the Schottenstein Center. Ticket Information
The Short Story
Cam Thiesing tipped a Mason Lohrei shot 4:12 into the game to open the scoring. At 5:38 of the second Georgii Merkulov tallied for a two-goal lead but the Spartans answered less than three minutes later with a power play goal. Merkulov netted his second of the game with just 33 seconds left in the middle period for a 3-1 Ohio State advantage. The Spartans pulled their goalie for the extra attacker late in the third and it paid off at 18:47, as they made it a one-goal game. Ohio State was able to hold off the Spartans the rest of the way to seal the win. Ohio State was outshot, 42-30, in the game, with Jakub Dobeš making 40 saves. Merkulov had his second career two-goal game, while Thiesing had a goal and an assist for two points and Lohrei and Quinn Preston both had two helpers.
Quoting head coach Steve Rohlik
“It’s always hard to win in college hockey, especially on the road, and to win two is even tougher. Credit to our guys. Michigan State played hard, but we held on at the end. Now we start preparing for another tough road series at Penn State.”
Quoting fifth-year senior Grant Gabriele
“It’s always a great feeling winning on the road and an even better feeling getting a sweep. It definitely wasn’t our ‘A’ game tonight but we found a way. We can enjoy the win, but it’s back to work this week to clean up some things before we head to Penn State.”
How It Happened
• Cam Thiesing redirected a Mason Lohrei shot at 4:12 to put the Buckeyes on the board. Quinn Preston, who won the puck battle along the boards, had the second assist on the goal, Thiesing’s second of the series.
• Shots were 13-10 in favor of Michigan State in the period. The Spartans had two of the three power play chances in the stanza.
• Georgii Merkulov put Ohio State ahead 2-0 at 5:38 of the second, as he scored from the faceoff circle off a pass from Quinn Preston, with Thiesing also assisting.
• Michigan State made it a one-goal game at 8:07 on an Erik Middendorf power play tally.
• With time winding down in the middle stanza, Lohrei set up Merkulov for a goal. His initial shot was saved, but Lohrei picked up the rebound by the net and went behind, finding Merkulov at the right faceoff circle for a tally at 19:27.
• Michigan State outshot the Buckeyes, 12-11, and had the only power play chance in the second.
• Ohio State carried the two-goal lead until 18:47, when Tanner Kelly was able to score with the Spartan net empty.
• The Buckeyes closed out the win, helped by two shot blocks in the final minute.
• The Spartans had 17 shots on goal in the third period, holding Ohio State to nine.
• For the game, Michigan State outshot Ohio State, 42-30.
• Jakub Dobeš had 40 saves for Ohio State, the second-highest total of his Buckeye career.
• Ohio State blocked 24 Spartan shot attempts. Cole McWard led Ohio State with four, while Ryan O’Connell had three and five other Buckeyes had two. In all, 14 Buckeyes blocked at least one shot.
• Ohio State was unable to score on three power play chances and the penalty kill was 3-for-4.
Buckeye This and That
• Merkulov leads the Buckeyes with 14 goals and 27 points this season. He also scored twice Dec. 31 vs. LIU and has seven games with two-plus points.
• Lohrei has a team-best 20 assists and is second with 22 points. It was his fifth multiple-assist game in the Scarlet and Gray and his sixth multi-point outing.
• Thiesing is third for the Buckeyes with 21 points, tying for second with seven goals and ranking second with 14 assists. He has six multiple-point games this year.
• Preston had his sixth career game with two assists and his second this year. He has a 6-9-15 line on the year.
• Dobeš is 17-6-1 this season, with a 2.07 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. He has 30-plus saves in each of the last six games.
• The Buckeyes allowed a power play goal for the first time in five games.
• The road sweep was the first for the Buckeyes since winning twice at Michigan State Feb. 21-22, 2020.