Eric Beiersdorfer / Lantern photographer
The Ohio State men’s hockey team (1-1-0) split its season-opening series with Quinnipiac University (1-1-0) this past weekend. After winning its season opener Friday night in Value City Arena, 2-1, the Buckeyes fell to Quinnipiac, 4-3, the following night.
Senior goalie Cal Heeter led the way for OSU in Friday’s win with 35 saves. Both team’s head coaches had high praise for Heeter following the win.
“He gave us an opportunity to win,” OSU head coach Mark Osiecki said. “He had some great saves and remained calm in the net.”
Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold agreed.
“I thought (he) was the best player on the ice,” he said.
OSU was outshot 36-16 on Friday, but the Buckeyes took advantage of four power plays, scoring on two of them.
Sophomore forward Chris Crane scored about three minutes into the first period after receiving a pass from junior forward Alex Carlson in front of the net. Freshman forward Ryan Dzingel scored his first-career goal with less than eight minutes remaining in the third period on a 5-on-3 power play to give the Buckeyes the lead. The goal proved to be the game winner.
After only managing one goal on 36 shots Friday night, Quinnipiac wasted no time scoring on Saturday. Quinnipiac scored three times within the first 12 minutes of the game, two of which came on the power play, and led 4-0 after the first period.
Heeter was pulled with 8:17 remaining in the period. Osiecki said he didn’t pull Heeter based on how the goalie was playing, but how the Buckeyes’ defense was playing in front of him.
“I don’t want to leave Cal (Heeter) in there if the guys are not responding well,” he said. “If the guys are not playing to our liking at the start let’s not leave him high and dry.”
Osiecki said the first period was tough, especially with a young team.
“The first period was difficult,” he said. “That’s a lot of minutes to have to kill with a young team.”
The Buckeyes rallied after the first period, outscoring Quinnipiac 3-0 for the game’s final 40 minutes.
Freshman forward Matt Johnson and senior forward Cory Schneider had goals in the second period. Dzingel scored his second-career goal in the third period, but it was too little, too late for OSU.
Johnson said he was happy to see his team rally and come close to tying the game.
“It’s never your train of thought to think you can’t come back,” he said. “You have to stay positive regardless of the score.”
“The second and third periods were good responses. It easily could have gone 7-0,” he said. “The response was outstanding for us.”
In the two-game series, OSU had more than 10 freshmen see time on the ice.
The Buckeyes have a total of 13 newcomers this season.
With a young team, Osiecki said the Buckeyes will be learning and improving throughout the season.
“It’s a process, it’s going to be a journey for us, but I think it’s going to be a fun journey,” he said. “The best thing about this team is the untapped potential.”
The Buckeyes take the ice next at Notre Dame in a two-game series Oct. 14-15.