It’s official. Ohio State is the 2019 Big Ten Hockey champ. The Buckeyes wrapped up the title on Saturday with a 3-on-3 overtime win at Michigan.
|Scoring by Period||1||2||3||OT||Final||3v3|
|No. 5/6 Ohio State||1||2||0||0||3||1|
The Wolverines pressured the Scarlet and Gray from the outset of the game. Their speed and aggression put OSU on its heels. The Bucks fought through some tough minutes but they hung on. When an opportunity came, their power play boosted them into the lead.
Seven minutes into the first period, Michigan’s Brendan Warren was hit with a major for kneeing Sasha Larocque. On the ensuing advantage Carson Meyer wired home the game’s opening goal.
When the teams returned to even strength, the Wolverines resumed their attack. At the 15:47 mark, Nick Blankenburg got around Quinn Preston’s defense. One-on-one with Tommy Nappier, Blankenburg slid the puck past the Buckeye goalie.
A completely different Ohio State team emerged from the intermission break. The Bucks became the aggressors. They were dominant for the first nine minutes of the period, outshooting Michigan 6-0 and scoring twice. First, Brendon Kearney crossed the blue line and ripped his seventh goal of the season past Strauss Mann.
Then Jobst drew a penalty on Michigan. On the power play, John Wiitala put himself in perfect position to redirect a pass from Matt Miller. The Buckeyes led 3-1.
The Bucks nearly netted a fourth goal right after this but stout goaltending by Mann thwarted Meyer’s drive. It would prove to be a crucial play as Michigan rallied to tie the game. An OSU penalty following fast on the heels of Mann’s big save opened the door for Joseph Cecconi to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 3-2.
It was just the beginning of a long stretch of work for the Bucks’ penalty killers. Ohio State was whistled for another six penalties in regulation including two majors. (Although both times the Wolverines helped out by taking simultaneous minor penalties which shortened their advantages.)
Penalty trouble continued to dog the Scarlet and Gray in overtime. Jobst was called for tripping at the buzzer of the 5-on-5 OT. It turned out alright, though. The Bucks killed the penalty. Jobst exited the box and went straight down the ice to win the B1G championship on a breakaway goal.
You got the sense watching this series that the Buckeye captain was not leaving Michigan without the Big Ten championship. He and Freddy Gerard and Ronnie Hein worked their cans off this weekend. Big tip of the cap to that trio.
With OSU’s two points from tonight’s “shootout” win and Notre Dame’s loss to Minnesota, the Buckeyes claim the 2018-19 regular season Big Ten title. It is the first regular season conference championship for Ohio State since the program claimed the inaugural CCHA crown in 1972.
This was not the kind of game you’d want to write home about other than the fact that the result clinched the B1G crown. But it was enough. The Bucks found a way to get the job done. In the end that’s what matters.
The Buckeyes have got the conference-clinching monkey off their backs. Next they return home to celebrate their championship and their seniors in the season finale against Michigan State. The puck drops at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and 5pm ET next Saturday.