When Ohio State (7-4-3 overall, 6-2-2-1 CCHA) traveled to East Lansing this weekend for an away series, the players brought with them six periods of consistent, strong hockey.
They are heading back to Columbus, Ohio, with two more games chalked up in the win column, as the Buckeyes swept MSU hockey (4-8-2 overall, 3-6-1-0 CCHA) with a 1-0 win Friday night and a 3-1 win on Saturday.
“Everybody knows that we’re trying to manufacture some goals, and it takes some time,” MSU head coach Tom Anastos said following Saturday’s game.
“It’s kind of like when you’re a player and you’re supposed to score goals. You can’t think about scoring goals, you have to think about playing hard without the puck, skating hard to the scoring areas, getting pucks on goal. Those are the things that lead to scoring chances that then lead to goals.”
Each team’s statistics following Friday’s game were relatively similar — Ohio State and MSU both had 16 blocked shots, OSU had 33 shots, MSU had 31 shots and each team had a goal that was taken away after further review.
“It’s fun to play in games like these,” Hildebrand said on Friday. “It’s so back and forth. Ohio State’s a great team. They’re a very hardworking team, and we came out, we battled and fought with them all night long and they buried (it).”
On Friday, Anastos said the team would have to come out with a few minor adjustments in order to split the series on Saturday. Unfortunately, those changes were adjusted the wrong way, as MSU once again found themselves on the losing end of the matchup.
The Spartans kicked things off early when senior forward Chris Forfar rushed the puck to the net from the blue line and slipped it under Ohio State’s goaltender Brady Hjelle. Ohio State came out strong in the second period with two goals, one of which came with about a minute left in the period to give them the lead.
The final goal of the series was an open-net, short-handed goal on a four-on-six.
“They do a great job blocking shots (and) clogging the net, and that’s hard to play against,” Forfar said. “You see a bunch of teams in the CCHA playing like that. Another notable (team) is Ferris State, and defensively it’s hard to get shots through and get the second and third opportunities because they’re taken away.”
Both games proved to be defensive ones. Throughout 120 minutes of play, Hildebrand and Hjelle both stopped 53 total pucks each, and MSU players combined made 22 blocks, while Ohio State players made 30.
“(They were) very winnable games, especially the first night,” junior forward Greg Wolfe said. “I think 0-0 going into the third (on Friday) and they score with two minutes left, it’s hard to rebound from that. We did a pretty good job coming out in the first (on Saturday). We had a lot of jump, but the weathering of the game was back and forth, but in the end we came up a little short.”