Ohio State men’s hockey head coach Mark Osiecki put his team through a hard practice Monday in an effort to knock the satisfaction of his young team after its win Saturday vs. No. 2 Notre Dame.
That didn’t quite work when the Buckeyes retook the ice Thursday night at Michigan State.
Ohio State was flat, unable to get much of anything going as the Spartans put together a comprehensive 3-0 victory in front of 4,799 fans in Munn Ice Arena in a CCHA contest.
“We felt like we were in mud,” Osiecki said. “I thought State came out and did a good job of moving their feet. They played like a desperate hockey club playing at home coming off of losing two games last weekend. We came off like we beat Notre Dame, and I thought it was as simple as that.
“With a young team, it’s how you handle success. That’s our learning curve.”
Michigan State captain Torey Krug scored only 4:46 into the game with the only goal the Spartans would need. Anthony Hayes and Trevor Nill later added tallies and senior goaltender Drew Palmisano made 29 saves in his fifth career shutout and second vs. OSU.
Cal Heeter made 27 saves for the Buckeyes, who were without reigning CCHA rookie of the week Max McCormick because of injury. There is no timetable for his return, and McCormick did not make the trip for the two-game series.
Missing the freshman certainly didn’t help the OSU attack, but Osiecki said the problems ran deeper than that.
“I just think our compete level wasn’t the same level as we played Notre Dame last weekend,” the second-year coach said. “We had some chances but the bounces didn’t go our way. A former coach with me was here and after the game the first thing he said was, ‘You didn’t get the break.’ I said, ‘Well, you have to create some of those breaks.’”
The Spartans (2-3-0, 1-2-0-0) didn’t take long to get the winner. OSU freshman defenseman Justin DaSilva took a holding penalty 4:16 into the game, and 30 seconds later, Krug’s shot from the center point beat a screened Heeter to make it 1-0. Extra credit on the play went to MSU defenseman Brock Shelgren, who kept two OSU clearing attempts in at the line.
The Buckeyes took two other penalties back to back and emerged unscathed on the scoreboard, but a tone was set.
“Young team again, highs and lows,” Osiecki said. “Penalty, penalty, penalty – three of them again.”
Despite being outshot 12-9, the Spartans certainly had the better of the chances in the rest of the first period, as Heeter was forced into excellent stops on Krug and Mike Merrifield while Matt Berry hit the post and Merrifield fired wide again.
The Buckeyes (2-3-0, 1-2-0-0) had some solid chances early in the second period from Matt Johnson and Ryan Dzingel but couldn’t score, and the Spartans took advantage 15:15 into the period with their second goal. Michigan State won a battle below the goal line for a puck, then Kevin Walrod made an extra pass in front to give Hayes a tap-in at the right post.
Any momentum the Buckeyes thought they might have gained in the second was gone just 1:39 into the third as MSU made it 3-0. Nill’s goal was originally waved off as he directed Tanner Sorenson’s pass through Heeter’s legs with his skate, but review showed it was a legal goal as he was in the process of stopping when the puck hit his skate.
“I think the third one was a killer,” Osiecki said. “A sophomore turns the puck over, and it’s a deflating moment. That’s definitely a questionable goal … but that’s tough. That’s definitely a pop-the-balloon moment.
Chris Crane had Ohio State’s best chances to get on the board in the third, but he shot one through the crease with Palmisano down just after Nill’s goal and then was stoned by the MSU netminder in the final three minutes.
The teams will rematch Friday night in East Lansing as the series was moved up a day to accommodate the MSU football game with No. 4 Wisconsin on Saturday night.
Osiecki will hope for a rebound performance.
“We as a staff didn’t think they competed very hard,” he said. “A lot of it was a reflection of last weekend, and looking to our older guys, we don’t have a lot of older guys, and that’s the problem. All the young guys are looking to a couple of older guys. That’s hard. That’s your learning curve. That’s our roller coaster that we’re going to have.”