Hockey Buckeyes Win B1G Tourney Opener

Tanner Fritz had a goal for OSU.

With the season on the line, Drew Brevig came through for the Ohio State men's hockey team on Thursday night in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament. Brevig's overtime goal kept alive the OSU campaign and gave the Buckeyes a 2-1 OT win vs. Michigan State, setting up a meeting with No. 1 Minnesota tonight.

The hometown boy came through as Ohio State freshman defenseman Drew Brevig from Lakeville, Minn., scored at 4:23 of overtime Thursday night to give the Buckeyes a 2-1 victory vs. Michigan State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament.

Up next is a semifinal date Friday at 8 p.m. (Big Ten Network/WBNS 1460 AM) with top-ranked Minnesota, which is playing the tourney essentially in its backyard at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Brevig grew up 15 minutes from the arena and played in the high school state championship there for Lakeville South.

With dozens of family members and friends on hand, he scored his third goal of the season at a most opportune time.

The gritty work was done by junior forward Max McCormick as he ragged the puck along enough in the Spartans (11-18-7) zone for the fourth-seeded Buckeyes to complete a line change.

McCormick then skated in front of the net and tried to stuff the puck past MSU goalie Jake Hildebrand. In the ensuing scramble, Hildebrand lost his stick and the puck squirted to Tanner Fritz.

He dropped the puck to Brevig, who waited for three Spartans to go to the ice and collide in an attempt to block a shot. Brevig moved around the pileup to the right and fired into the goal and the Buckeyes (17-13-5) started celebrating.

Their euphoria was put on hold for a lengthy review but the goal stood and Michigan State, the fifth seed, was done for the season.

"Fritzy made a great play," Brevig said. "He brought some guys with him. I think they had some chaos out front. I think the puck had eyes and found its way through. … It was definitely a fun night for me."

Brevig, forward Nick Schilkey and goalie Christian Frey were named this week to the Big Ten's All-Freshman Team and Frey was outstanding in keeping the Buckeyes in the game. Greg Wolfe gave the Spartans a 1-0 lead at 4:04 of the first period but Frey shut the door for the next 60 minutes and finished with 26 saves.

His play enabled the Buckeyes to finally get the equalizer at 16:26 of the second when Fritz put in a shot at the crease after a great backhand feed by sophomore Anthony Greco. Senior defenseman Curtis Gedig also assisted.

"I didn't like our start, but I thought we responded after the first period and had a good second, third and overtime," OSU coach and Minnesota native Steve Rohlik said. "I thought our guys started to get their legs."

That the game went to overtime should not have been a surprise.

OSU won the first meeting this season by scoring three goals in the third for a comeback 5-3 win. In the next meeting, the Buckeyes tied the score at 1 in the third. The game ended that way but the Spartans took the extra league point by winning the shootout. The next two games were in East Lansing, and the Buckeyes in each rallied in the third for the tie and won the shootouts.

"It was a one-shot game (Thursday)," MSU coach Tom Anastos said. "All of our games with them have been. Unfortunately, they got the one shot that mattered. It's a good win for Ohio State and a disappointing loss for us."

"The similarities are both teams play hard. I think they have some offensive experience on their team that we just don't have right now."

OSU fired 33 shots at Hildebrand but once again had trouble beating him. Now they'll face the top goalie in the conference and one of the best in the nation in Adam Wilcox before a partisan and hostile crowd.

"There's going to be a lot of emotion involved," OSU associate head coach Brett Larson told IMG/Ohio State radio after the game. "It's going to be a rink filled with 18,000 people and 17,850 are going to be wearing maroon and gold, pretty much, except for our family and friends and obviously our band that was here, which was great.

"I'm happy the guys get to play in it. It will be a great experience."

The Buckeyes and Golden Gophers have played four times this season with Minnesota winning 1-0 and 4-2 at home and 5-1 in Columbus before the teams played to a 2-2 tie March 8 before OSU won the shootout in Value City Arena.

This will be the Buckeyes' third different venue playing the Golden Gophers in Minnesota this season. The first was outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium before more than 45,000 fans. The next game was at Minnesota's usual home – Mariucci Arena.

In the other semifinal at 3 p.m. Friday (Big Ten Network) Penn State, a sixth seed, plays second seed Wisconsin. The Nittany Lions upset 12th-ranked Michigan 2-1 in double overtime Thursday.

The title game is 8 p.m. Saturday on the Big Ten Network. The winner receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. That appears to be the only way the Buckeyes will qualify.

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