Tim Kubick / For The Lantern
The Ohio State men’s ice hockey team split a road series with Ferris State over the weekend. The Buckeyes defeated the Bulldogs, 3-1, in Big Rapids, Mich., Friday night before falling by the same score Saturday.
The Buckeyes started slow Saturday night and found themselves trailing by two goals before the end of the opening period. The Bulldogs’ (10-9-3, CCHA 8-7-1-0) two goals were separated by 32 seconds.
“Their first period was outstanding,” OSU coach Mark Osiecki said of Ferris State’s attack. “They came out flying.”
OSU was unable to find the net until the 7:54 mark of the third. Sophomore forward Max McCormick tallied his seventh goal of the year on a rebound he collected near the net. The Buckeyes trailed, 2-1, with 12 minutes remaining to score an equalizer.
Despite a final period in which OSU was twice on the power play and out-shot Ferris State, 8-6, the Buckeyes were unable to pull even. With 24 seconds remaining in regulation, the Bulldogs scored on an empty net to cement the victory and the series split.
OSU senior goalie Brady Hjelle highlighted the series’ opening victory with 38 saves and came within nine minutes of earning his fourth shutout of the season.
Osiecki said his team was ready for the test Ferris State presented after an impressive week of practice.
“I think our preparation all week was outstanding,” Osiecki said. “I thought our guys carried that right into the game.”
OSU (8-9-5, CCHA 7-4-3-1) grabbed a lead it would not relinquish at the 8:22 mark of the first period on a goal by junior forward Alex Szczechura.
OSU junior forward Chris Crane added two scores of his own, giving him five on the season, to provide the winning margin.
The Buckeyes entered and left the weekend series tied for fourth in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association with Ferris State. The two squads sit eight points behind first place Notre Dame with less than two months remaining until the conference tournament begins.
In that time, the team hopes to improve the consistency of its level of play.
“We had a really good game Friday, and we came out today a little on our heels and they took it to us,” OSU junior forward Travis Statchuk said after Saturday’s loss.
Hjelle said OSU “can’t take any periods off.”
“We just have to learn that we have to show up to play every night,” Hjelle said.
OSU continues its season and conference play Friday at Northern Michigan at 7:30 p.m.