Two goals in the final 1:34 of the third period helped Ohio State erase a 2-0 deficit as Michigan State and OSU played to a 2-2 tie on Friday night in front of a sellout crowd of 6,494 at Munn Ice Arena. After a scoreless overtime, OSU won the shootout in five rounds to earn an extra point in the Big Ten standings.
Seniors Lee Reimer and Greg Wolfe scored for MSU (8-13-5, 2-5-4-3), which looked like it might be in line for the win entering the final minutes of the third period. The momentum started to turn with 3:11 to play in the third when Joe Cox was whistled for interference and the Buckeyes pulled goaltender Christian Frey, creating a 6-on-4 advantage. With 23 seconds remaining on the penalty, Tanner Fritz scored to cut the deficit in half, 2-1.
“It was a seeing-eye puck,” said MSU head coach Tom Anastos. “They made a good play and the puck hit off the post and in off Hildy – it gave them real life and a spark.”
A hooking call on Matt Berry with 39 seconds remaining gave OSU a chance to tie as the Buckeyes again pulled Frey for the 6-on-4 advantage. After a faceoff win in MSU territory in the final 10 seconds, Alex Szczechura scored on a wraparound with 1.7 seconds remaining to knot the game at two.
“We obviously did not play a full 60 minutes,” said Anastos. “I thought we were managing the game pretty successfully and those late penalties put us in a tough spot. When you’re killing penalties at that point in the game and they can pull their goalie, 6-on-4 is pretty tough to defend.”
Overtime failed to produce a winner and the game officially ended in a 2-2 tie. In the shootout to decide the extra point in the Big Ten standings, Fritz broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth round, giving Ohio State (14-9-2, 4-5-2-1) two points.
Jake Hildebrand finished with 40 saves for Michigan State, while Frey made 25.
After a scoreless first period, Reimer got the first goal of the game at the 7:44 mark of the second. The play started when Ryan Keller kept the puck in the zone along the left boards, pushing it toward Wolfe in the near corner. Wolfe fed Reimer in front, who made no mistake, beating Frey for his fifth goal of the season.
Both teams fired 14 shots on goal in the second period. Hildebrand did his part to keep OSU scoreless as just after Reimer’s goal, he stopped Nick Oddo on a breakaway, kicking out his left pad and stopping the puck with his toe.
The Buckeyes pressed the Spartans early in the third period, but MSU countered by scoring on an odd-man opportunity to boost its lead to 2-0. The play started when Thomas Ebbing jarred the puck free just inside the MSU zone, sending Wolfe and Mackenzie MacEachern up ice. Wolfe held the puck and then fired a laser from inside the right circle, beating Frey up high.
The two teams will complete the two-game series tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Munn Arena.
“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves tonight,” said Anastos. “We have to dig deeper, regroup and get 60 minutes of hockey.”