Saturday, March 19, 2016

Ohio State Men's Hockey 2015-2016 Eulogy

What started out as a running joke of which Columbus hockey team would finally win first, ended up blossoming into a pretty nice  overall season for the Buckeyes. Ohio State started their season at 0-7 before finally getting their first win against Mercyhurst.

Their season ended in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament with a 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers, but the Buckeyes also earned points in their last 8 of 9 games. The season could have went into the tank, but the Buckeyes fought through it and made it a very interesting season.

Stiff competition and self-inflicted wounds caused Ohio State to have a rough start — dropping their first seven games. Bowling Green out scored them 8-3 in a two-game series.

Next, they squared off with former CCHA foe Miami University. The Buckeyes played better, only losing 6-3 overall to the Redhawks in the two-game series.

Then, the team headed out east to Providence. The Buckeyes lost 2-1, and 6-4 to the Friars, who were last year's national title winners. You might remember the Buckeyes started last season with an upset win over the Friars, 5-4 in OT. It was a hell of a hockey game.
The Buckeyes take on the Redhawks

There was light at then end of the tunnel when Mercyhurst came to Columbus. The Buckeyes dropped the first game of the set 2-1, but stormed back in the second game 5-1 for their first win of the season.

Success continued as the Buckeyes welcomed Canisius to Value City Arena. They swept Canisius, out scoring them 10-5 in the series.

Next, the Buckeyes took a trip out west to Nebraska-Omaha, a tough NCHC opponent.  The Buckeyes were swept by Omaha, 3-1 and 6-4.

Finally, to close out the first half of the season, the team headed north to fight Big Ten foe Minnesota. Ohio State played well enough to get the points but not well enough to win. The Gophers took both games in OT, 3-2 and 5-4 respectively.

The Buckeyes win the Florida College Cup
The season really took a surprise turn for the better when the Buckeyes traveled to Florida for the Florida College Cup. In the first game, the Buckeyes faced off against powerhouse Boston College. After falling down 2-0 after one period to the Eagles, the Buckeyes scored three unanswered goals to win the game. 

Things got more shocking the next day when the Buckeyes faced the Big Red of Cornell.  The Bucks started scoring and simply could not stop. They struck for eight goals while claiming the Florida College Cup Championship. Nothing like knocking off two top 10 teams in a row.

Success continued as the Buckeyes entered the swing of the Big Ten season. On a trip up to Madison to face the Badgers, the Buckeyes took the first game 2-0 but lost the second game in a shootout. 

In the second game of the set with the Badgers, goalie Christian Frey had not give up a goal in 133 minutes of playing time, quite a feat for the goaltender from Texas.

The Buckeyes welcomed hated rival Michigan next for a home and home set. The Buckeyes took the first game in a shootout 6-5 (nine rounds). Michigan stormed back for an 8-6 victory at Yost on Sunday. In that game, a Michigan player sucker punched a Buckeye and was suspended for three games. They are classless up there in Ann Arbor, period.
Script Ohio on the ice at Value City Arena

The Buckeyes then entered a three series home stand in Value City Arena. First, they faced off against the Penn State Nittany Lions. The teams split the series, 3-2 OT win for Penn State and a 5-1 win for the Buckeyes. 

They also split the series against Michigan State. The Spartans took the first game 4-2 and the Buckeyes came back with a 2-1 victory in the second. 

Finally, the Buckeyes welcomed their nemesis the Minnesota Gophers to Value City Arena.  The Buckeyes played well but lost both games, 5-4 OT and 4-3.
Spineless, Gutless and yes the ref is in the middle

As the season moved to the final stanza, the Buckeyes took a trip to "Hockey Valley" for a date with the Nittany Lions.  The Buckeyes lost the first game 6-1 but struck back in the second game for a 7-4 victory. 

After the victory, the Buckeyes would run off an eight-game point streak. When Wisconsin came to Columbus, the teams split the series. Wisconsin won 5-4 in a shootout, and the Buckeyes won the second game 6-5.

Then, the Buckeyes surprisingly swept a home and home with No. 5 Michigan, 7-4 and 6-5 OT. 

The Buckeyes closed out the regular season with a trip to East Lansing. They split the two-game series with Michigan State. Both games went into OT, 6-5 (Bucks win) and 2-1 (Spartans win).

Ohio State entered the Big Ten Tournament as the fourth seed. The tournament was held for a second time at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

In the first round of the tournament, the Buckeyes played a familiar foe — the Michigan State Spartans. It was the same team they played in the 2014 tourney. 

In the well-played game, the Buckeyes jumped out to the lead, but the Spartans responded leading 3-2 into the 3rd. The Buckeyes tied in the 3rd and won the game in OT, 4-3.  It was eerily similar to the 2014 victory over Michigan State, which was in the same building and also an OT game won by the Buckeyes.

The Buckeyes played the Minnesota Gophers in the second round, which was also a repeat of the 2014 tournament where the Buckeyes played them in the second round and pulled off a stunning 3-1 victory at Xcel Energy Center. 

Unfortunately, things did not go as well for the Buckeyes this time. They led through the first two periods 1-0, but the Gophers exploded for four unanswered goals in the 3rd. The Bucks added a late goal but fell 4-2 in the end, and the season was over.
The Buckeyes Win!!!!!

The Buckeyes can't hang their heads. Overall, it was a great season even if their record doesn't show it. 

They beat three top 10 teams, two of which were in a row (Boston College and Cornell).  They also won the season series against No. 5 Michigan (3-1).  It should be noted that Michigan had one of their best seasons in recent memory. 

The Buckeyes will finish the season ranked in the low 30s, which is a good sign because they started in the high 40s. The team is definitely headed in the right direction. Hopefully they can get some more great players into the program and continue to build on their successes from the 2015-2016 season. 

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