'It Can Be Done'
Ohio State Upsets Minnesota, Goes for Big Ten Title
by Jashvina Shah/Staff Writer
ST. PAUL, Minn. Against Minnesota, The Buckeyes did something no one had ever done in a Big Ten Tournament game.
They became the first team in tournament history to score three goals.
But if Ohio State wants to win the first Big Ten Championship, it will have to win its third game in three days.
“It can be done,” Buckeye coach Steve Rohlik said he told his team.
“I said that tomorrow you're going to feel great. Yeah, it's three games in three nights, but you also have another great opportunity to play another great team in Wisconsin.”
Ryan Dzingel netted the game-winning goal 9:08 minutes into the third period, and Anthony Greco added the empty-net goal as Ohio State defeated Minnesota 3-1 on Friday.
In four meetings against top-rated Minnesota this season, the Buckeyes hadn’t won. The closest Ohio State came to a victory was a 2-2 tie that ended in a Buckeye shootout win.
“Knowing we have to win, you play a little bit differently,” Dzingel said. “Just the feeling you get when you look at those four seniors in our locker room, they're done if we lose.
“That feeling is a lot different.”
These Ohio State seniors have never won a conference championship, and they’ve never played in an NCAA tournament. If the Buckeyes win on Sunday, they’ll make it back to the NCAAs for the first time since 2008-09.
“I definitely look a little bit ahead,” Dzingel said. “None of these guys in the locker room have ever felt that feeling. We've never gone there. We look ahead but that's not going to affect our game here.”
Just before the postseason started, Rohlik called the Big Ten tournament Ohio State’s NCAA Tournament.
“You're playing for a chance to get a Championship and play in the NCAA Tournament,” Rohlik said. “I think our guys are pretty excited about that chance.”
The Buckeyes slid into the tournament after finishing the regular season with one win in its last seven regular-season games. It wasn’t easy for the Buckeyes in the start of the season either, even though Ohio State won nine of its first 13 games.
After having six different goalkeepers sit on Ohio State’s roster at various points in the season, the Buckeyes settled on midseason addition Christian Frey. He stopped 30 shots in the victory.
“He’s got a quiet game. He's calm. He doesn't say much. It's kind of how he goes through his routine every day. Practice, he's the same way,” Rohlik said.
“What you saw tonight he's brought every day. It's really a credit to him.”
Although the Buckeyes allowed 64 shots total, they gave up 11 grade-A chances. In the third period, Ohio State gave up four. The only goal Ohio State allowed came when Taylor Cammarata found an open Kyle Rau on the doorstep.
“We bent, but we didn't break,” Rohlik said. “We got to expect to win. That's what we told our team. You got to expect to win every game you play no matter who you play. We just beat the best team in the country tonight. It's a good feeling, but we're not done yet.”
In 2009, Rohlik was on Minnesota-Duluth’s coaching staff. His squad won the 2009 WCHA Final Five, netting three victories in three days at the Xcel Energy Center.
“Like I told them before, this can happen,” Rohlik said.