Men’s Hockey: Ohio State mounts huge comeback, wins thrilling home opener

The Lantern
The Ohio State Men’s Ice Hockey team huddles up before the Ohio State-Minnesota game on Jan. 30. Ohio State lost 2-5. Credit: Mackenzie Shanklin | Photo Editor

The Buckeyes treated home supporters to an all-timer in their return to the Schottenstein Center.

Ohio State (2-1-0) came back from a three-goal deficit to defeat the Connecticut Huskies, (2-2-0) 4-3 in overtime Friday. Head coach Steve Rohlik admired the fight and resiliency his team put on display in the first game of the series against the Huskies.

“I know it’s early in the year, but not a lot of times have you seen you’re down three-zip and you come back and win a game like that,” Rohlik said. “That’s to me, the most important thing that’s come out of this. Never give up.”

Connecticut opened the scoring Friday night, as junior defenseman Roman Kinal beat Ohio State junior netminder Ryan Snowden with 8:40 remaining in the opening period to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead.

Although he wasn’t credited with an assist, senior forward Marc Gatcomb made the key play that set up Kinal’s goal. Gatcomb delivered a huge hit behind the Ohio State net to spring the puck loose and allow the Huskies to regain possession in the attacking zone.

A few minutes into the second period, Kinal picked up a loose puck, skated around Snowden and found sophomore defenseman John Spetz wide open for what was essentially a tap-in goal to put his team up 2-0.

Following a Connecticut power play goal that put the Huskies ahead 3-0 with 13:43 remaining in the second period, Rohlik made the decision to replace Snowden with freshman Jakub Dobeš, a move that was celebrated by the home fans.

Dobeš played brilliantly in between the pipes for the Buckeyes, saving all 23 shots that came his way.

Dobeš said his mindset was the same coming off the bench as it would be if he started the game, stressing that it’s his duty to perform no matter when he enters the ice.

“This is my job, so I was ready,” Dobeš said. “This is Ohio State, so you always need to be ready. Just jump in and do my job.”

Senior forward Quinn Preston got the Buckeyes on the board in style at the 9:12 mark of the second period. The move started with an excellent outlet pass from Dobeš to junior forward Tate Singleton, who dropped the puck off for Preston, allowing him to drive at the net and score.

Preston’s goal served as a huge momentum shifter in the eyes of Rohlik. After seeing the puck go in the back of the net, he felt his team would go on to win the game.

“You score that first goal, and all of a sudden you have life. I think that’s what happened with us,” Rohlik said. “Once we finally scored that first goal, it was kind of like alright, we got this.”

With just over two minutes remaining in the second period, freshman forward Cam Thiesing shrunk the Huskies’ two-goal lead in half. Thiesing got behind the Connecticut defense and beat graduate goaltender Darion Hanson for his first career goal as a Buckeye.

Connecticut clung to a one-goal lead at the conclusion of the second period.

The Buckeyes spent much of the first half of the third period on the penalty kill, including playing 3-on-5. During this time, Dobeš made numerous highlight-reel saves to keep his team in it.

Three Ohio State freshmen combined to level the score at three with 6:23 to play. The goal was scored by freshman forward Gosha Merkulov, who collected the puck near center ice, skated into the offensive zone and cut inside from the right before firing a wrist shot past Hanson.

The goal was also Merkulov’s first goal as a Buckeye. Thiesing, who scored the first of his career earlier in the game, picked up an assist alongside freshman defenseman Cole McWard. The helper was McWard’s first collegiate point.

After a scoreless final 6:23, the Buckeyes and Huskies headed to a five-minute, sudden death overtime period.

With 3.6 seconds remaining in overtime, graduate defenseman and captain Will Riedell won the game for the Buckeyes. Senior forward Jake Wise carried the puck into the Connecticut defensive zone before feeding a crashing Riedell for the game-winner.

Riedell, who transferred in from Lake Superior State in the offseason, said that playing in an intense, highly competitive game like Friday’s was a major reason he decided to come to Columbus.

Riedell said he knew he had to act quickly if he wanted to send his team out victorious, as the game would’ve ended in a tie if he hadn’t scored.

“I knew there wasn’t much time,” Riedell said. “I think there was like 15 seconds left, so I just tried to go to the net and see what happens.”

Ohio State will look to extend its winning streak to three Saturday, as the two teams will meet again at 3:00 p.m. inside the Schottenstein Center.

Comments / 0

Published by

The Lantern is the independent, award-winning student voice of Ohio State, covering sports, campus, politics, and arts and life.

Columbus, OH

More from The Lantern

Comments / 0