Buckeyes end Spartans' 'disappointing' season

Al Willman
The Detroit News

Detroit — Just last week, much of the state endured a wind storm that knocked out power out for an estimated one million Michiganders.

On Thursday afternoon, another Gust put out the lights for Michigan State in the Big Ten quarterfinals at the Joe Louis Arena in front of about 300 people.

David Gust’s two goals in a span of 1:03 early in the third period helped Ohio State advance with a 6-3 win over Michigan State.

The Buckeyes (21-10-6) will take on Wisconsin (19-14-1) Friday at 4:30.

Brendon Kearney’s goal at 13:54 of the second tied the score at 3.

Just 25 seconds into the third, Gust’s go-ahead power play goal gave Ohio State a 4-3 lead. His goal at 1:38 made it 5-3.

“I challenged Gusty in the locker room in the third to come out,” Buckeyes forward Mason Jobst said. “I’m super proud of him as a senior to come out and step up and score two big goals for us.”

Gust was pleased, as well.

“(I felt) pretty good up by two,” Gust said of his mood after his second goal. “We were up by two earlier in the game and you saw what happened there. We just had to focus on closing it out.”

Tanner Laczynski’s goal at 3:51 made it 6-3, chasing Minney in favor of backup John Lehtemon.

“Obviously, the third period was not something we were happy about,” Michigan State Tom Anastos said. “Giving up that power-play (goal), I thought that was a real key moment to start that third period. Somebody was going to get momentum.

“Either they were, scoring that power-play goal, which we’ve struggled with the power play — as has many schools. We were hoping to shut it down and build some momentum. It didn’t work that way.”

Jobst scored first for Ohio State, on a shot that went over Michigan State goaltender Ed Minney’s right shoulder at 4:09 of the first period.

“Obviously, I think we started off a lot slower than we hoped,” Anastos said. “I liked our resillency, how we climbed back into the game.”

There was a brief four-on-four after Ohio State’s Kevin Miller and Michigan State’s Zach Osburn went off for roughing at 4:41. Then at 5:00, MSU’s Mitch Elliot picked up a minor for holding.

The Buckeyes capitalized on their 4-on-3 power play, with a goal from Nick Schilkey at 5:44, giving Ohio State a 2-0 lead on three shots.

Then the Spartans (7-24-4) scored the next three goals.

Villiam Haag’s goal at 8:58 from Patrick Khodorenko made it 2-1 before the Spartans tied the score at 2 at 12:15 on a bang-bang play from Khodorenko to Dylan Pavelek.

After Jobst went off for hooking at 13:25, Sam Saliba deflected a shot from Mason Appleton past Buckeyes goalie Matt Tomkins, giving Michigan State a 3-2 lead at 14:20.

“First and foremost, you’ve got to take care of the puck,” Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik said, explaining the Buckeyes losing their early two-goal lead. “That’s why (Gust) is such a special player. He was the first one with a giveaway, (giving) momentum to Michigan State. Next thing you know, it’s 3-2.

“But then you look down the bench and who scored the two big goals? That guy on the end, right there (Gust). Our team knew we had confidence and we were just going to continue to play well (and) stick with the game plan.”

The Buckeyes nearly got their third power play-goal twice after Brennan Sanford’s minor for hooking at 9:30 of the third, but Lethemon made two big saves during the penalty kill, keeping it 6-3.

Rohlik, in his fourth season as Ohio State’s coach, said his team’s matchups against Michigan State — in which the Buckeyes are 10-5-4 — have been tight.

“I can’t remember the last time we’ve played Michigan State where it hasn’t been an overtime, one-goal game,” he said.

Each of this season’s five meetings have been no different. Three of the four regular season matchups were one-goal games.

“(I’m) very disappointed with this season,” said Anastos, who is 78-122-24 in six seasons with the Spartans. “I knew coming into this season that we were introducing a lot of new to this team. We didn’t get good enough results. Obviously, our league is very tough, it’s tough to win in our league.

“(There are) a lot of good teams in our league. (We had) a very tough schedule. In the end, no, I’m disappointed with the season and I’m disappointed in how it ended today.”

Minney made 21 saves on 27 shots for the Spartans. Tomkins made 26 saves on 29 shots for the Buckeyes.

All-Big Ten team

Michigan defenseman Sam Piazza and Michigan State defenseman Carson Gatt were named to the All-Big Ten honorable mention team.

Former Red Wings assistant Tony Granato, now the coach at Wisconsin, was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Piazza, a junior from Darien, Ill., has six goals and eight assists in 31 games for the Wolverines.

Gatt, a junior from South Lyon, has three goals and nine assists in 31 games and has blocked 31 shots. He’s also second on the team in plus/minus with a plus-2.

Granato, in his second season with the Badgers, spent the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons as a Wings assistant.

Al Willman is a freelance writer @AlWillmanSports