Shelby Lum / Lantern photographer
The Ohio State men’s hockey team ended its weekend series with No. 6 Western Michigan on a high note with a 6-3 victory Saturday night. The Buckeyes earned four points on the weekend after tying the Broncos, 1-1, in the first game of the series on Friday.
OSU (13-12-7, 12-7-5-1 CCHA) now sits tied with Ferris State for fourth place in the CCHA standings with only two weekends left in the regular season. A fourth place finish will give them a first-round home series in the playoffs on March 8.
The Buckeyes scored first in both contests, with freshman forward Tyler Lundey scoring the team’s only regulation goal Friday night and junior forward Alex Szczechura scoring the first of his three goals Saturday early in the first period.
Western Michigan (18-8-6, 14-6-4-2 CCHA) tied the game Saturday less than three minutes later as Broncos sophomore forward Justin Kovacs netted his second goal of the season. With 6:26 remaining, Broncos sophomore forward David Killip scored, and Western Michigan took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
OSU sophomore forward Tanner Fritz scored his seventh goal of the season to tie the game with 8:26 left in the second, but a Western Michigan power-play goal put the Broncos back ahead, 3-2. It would be the final time they would hold the advantage in the game.
In the second period, Szczechura scored his second of the game and sophomore forwards Max McCormick and Darik Angeli followed suit to put OSU ahead 5-3. Szczechura then completed his hat trick early in the third period, giving the Buckeyes the win, 6-3.
It was the second time this season an OSU player scored three goals in one game, after sophomore forward Ryan Dzingel had a hat trick against Penn State in December. Szczechura has been coming up on Dzingel, OSU’s lead scorer, recently, with nine goals in the last 15 games.
OSU’s top line of Szczechura, McCormick and Fritz recorded 11 points on Saturday to lead the Buckeyes.
Fritz said the line-up is “clicking” right now.
“We’ve had a lot of chemistry,” Fritz said. “I feel like we’re getting the bounces now and we’re really clicking as a line. It’s probably the best time for us to be doing that, going into the playoffs.”
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The Buckeye offense has been impressive as of late, producing 28 goals in the team’s last eight games. Getting that kind of offensive production is something the entire team can feed off, Szczechura said.
“Once we start scoring, all the boys are cheering for you and everyone has each other’s backs,” Szczechura said. “It just feels really good.”
Broncos coach Andy Murray said he was less than pleased with his team and gave OSU full credit on the win.
“When you don’t stay humble, you get humbled, and we got humbled tonight,” Murray said. “Ohio State was good tonight and we were not good enough.”
Western Michigan earned an extra point in the CCHA standings on Friday night after winning the shootout, 2-1. The game was played tight the entire way, with both teams’ goals scored in the second period.
“I thought that game, the two teams competed extremely hard,” said OSU coach Mark Osiecki after the tie.
OSU is set to host Michigan Friday night at 6:35 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center in its final home series of the regular season.