HARTFORD, Conn. – The No. 17 Ohio State men’s hockey team downed UConn, 5-4, Friday in XL Center in Hartford, in game one of a two-game nonconference series. The teams will meet at 3:35 p.m. Saturday to wrap up the weekend. UConn cut the Buckeye lead to one three times, but Ohio State closed out the victory.
In his first collegiate start, freshman Tommy Nappier posted 35 saves for his first win. Matthew Weis had a team-high two goals and three points, while Dakota Joshua and Mason Jobst each had a goal and an assist and Gordi Myer, Matt Miller and Tanner Laczynski each had two assists.
Ohio State 5, UConn 4 – Briefly
The Buckeyes led 2-0 after the first period on two Matthew Weis goals and extended the lead to 3-0 with an early power play goal in the second period by Dakota Joshua. UConn scored the next two for a one-goal game entering the third. Ohio State regained its two-goal cushion with third period tallies from Mason Jobst and Christian Lampasso, but the Huskies answered each time. The Buckeye penalty kill came up huge in the third, holding UConn scoreless on a five-minute major and on a 6-on-4 advantage to close out the game. Tommy Nappier had 35 saves in the Buckeye net and stopped a second period penalty shot. The Buckeyes won the special teams battle, going 2-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill.
Quoting Coach Steve Rohlik
“We found a way to win. We dug ourselves a hole in the third by taking penalties, but our penalty kill came up big when we needed it at the end. We need to be better tomorrow.”
Quoting junior defenseman Sasha Larocque
“We played a pretty sloppy game overall, but were able to gut out a win. It was good to see the power play contribute and great to get a lead early, but we gave up a lot of opportunities and got away from our structure late. Credit to UConn, they gave us all we could handle, but at the end of the day we got the win and that’s what counts.”
In the First
Matthew Weis scored twice in the first period, with both goals set up by Tanner Laczynski. His first goal came just 40 seconds into the game. Sasha Larocque got the puck to Laczynski in the neutral zone. He carried into the UConn zone and put a shot on net and Weis was there for the rebound. At 7:57 Weis again scored on the rebound of a Laczynski shot, with Gordi Myer starting the play. Ohio State had the shot advantage, 12-7, in the period.
In the Second
Ohio State extended the lead to 3-0 4:13 into the second with a power play goal. Mason Jobst took a pass from Matt Miller and found Dakota Joshua in front. Joshua took the puck to his forehand and slid it past the UConn goalie. The Huskies scored twice to make it a one-goal game entering the third. At 8:59 Jesse Schwartz tallied and at 18:41 Spencer Naas added a goal. Between the UConn goals, Buckeye goalie Tommy Nappier made a save on a breakaway that drew a penalty shot. Nappier stopped the Husky on his penalty shot attempt as well, as he forced him to a sharp angle. The Huskies outshot the Buckeyes, 19-4, in the stanza.
In the Third
Mason Jobst scored on the power play – his team-best sixth goal of the year – at 3:58 of the third, putting a shot five-hole at 3:58 for a 4-2 Buckeye lead. Matt Miller and Matthew Weis assisted on the tally. UConn answered with its own power play goal to again draw within one, as Jesse Schwartz tallied at 6:34. Just 1:03 later the Buckeyes responded. A shot by Gordi Myer bounced off the back wall. Christian Lampasso was there to get the puck off the bounce at the side of the net and jammed it home for a 5-3 Buckeye lead. Dakota Joshua also assisted on the tally, which came at 7:37. At 9:43, a Buckeye was assessed a major penalty for hitting from behind, putting UConn on the power play for five minutes. The Ohio State penalty kill allowed UConn just five total shots on goal during the major to maintain the two-goal lead. With 3:12 left and the faceoff in the Buckeye zone, UConn pulled its goalie for the extra attacker. The move paid off, as Max Kalter scored at 17:14 for a one-goal game. The UConn goalie returned to the net for a bit, but was pulled with 2:07 remaining and a Buckeye penalty with 58 seconds left gave the Huskies a 6-on-4 advantage. Nappier made three saves, and Gordi Myer blocked two shots, to close out the win in the final minute. UConn had 13 shots in the period, limiting Ohio State to five.
Blocking the Puck
Freshman Tommy Nappier played all 60 minutes to pick up the win in his first collegiate start with 35 saves. UConn starter Tanner Creel played the first 47:37 and allowed five goals on 19 shots, while Adam Huska made two stops in 9:50 in relief. The Buckeyes were outshot, 39-21, marking the first time this season the squad allowed more than 27 shots on net.
Ohio State blocked 14 UConn shot attempts, led by Sasha Larocque with four. He is tied for fourth in the NCAA, averaging 2.91 shot blocks per night. UConn blocked 18 shots.
Ohio State converted 2-of-4 power play chances in the win. The penalty kill was 4-for-5 and is now 37-for-41 (.902) this season.
Noting the Buckeyes
• Matthew Weis had his third career two-goal game and first since Feb. 20, 2016 at Penn State. It was his seventh career game with three or more points. He now has a 4-5-9 line this year and 94 points as a Buckeye.
• Mason Jobst has a team-best six goals and shares the point lead with Tanner Laczynski, who has a team-best nine assists, with 12 each. Jobst has 97 points in his 85 games with the Scarlet and Gray.
• Matt Miller posted the first two-assist and multiple point game of his Ohio State career. He has three assists in his last two games combined.
• Gordi Myer had his second two-assist and two-point night for the Buckeyes, matching his total at Michigan Feb. 4.
• Nappier is the first Buckeye freshman to start– and post a win – since Logan Davis, Christian Frey and Matt Tomkins in 2013-14.