The Ohio State men’s hockey team entered this season with great expectations as the No. 17 team in the country.
But after consecutive losses at Value City Arena against the unranked Quinnipiac Bobcats on Thursday and Friday, the Buckeyes might need to go back to the drawing board to find a way to meet lofty expectations.
The Buckeyes lost their season opener 4-2 Thursday, and they were only able to muster one goal in a 3-1 loss Friday.
A veteran OSU roster, filled with talented juniors and sophomores, was overmatched by Quinnipiac’s lineup that featured 10 freshmen.
Junior Eric Lampe led the Bobcats with two goals in the first game and added another in the series finale.
Thursday’s season-opening contest left the Buckeyes dumbfounded after the final horn rang. Coach John Markell was simply dismayed when he looked back on his team’s season opening 4-2 loss.
“We didn’t want to engage the other team,” Markell said, shaking his head in disbelief. “We did some good things, and then we’d come right back with some penalties. We were outplayed in all aspects of the game tonight. Tonight, they were the veterans and we were the rookies.”
Junior Shane Sims scored the first goal of the season for OSU on a power play off an assist by sophomores Matt Bartkowski and Zac Dalpe. The goal was scored eight minutes into the contest and tied the game 1-1.
John Albert soon followed his teammate’s goal with one of his own off a sleek steal.
OSU led 2-1 in the first period after two unanswered goals, but the Buckeyes were unable to produce the same amount of success for the rest of the contest.
Both teams were silent on the scoreboard in the second period, but OSU was only able to host the lead for a few seconds in the third period.
Quinnipiac stormed right out of the gates and tied the game on its first possession of the final period with Eric Lampe’s second goal of the contest.
Before the tying goal began to sink in for the Buckeyes, the Bobcats took the lead with a strong one-timer slap shot by Brandon Wong.
The Bobcats never looked back after the two quick goals, as they outshot OSU 28-14 for the rest of the contest, preserving their 4-2 victory.
Albert, an All-CCHA Preseason Second Team junior, seemed to sum up Thursday night’s loss for the Buckeyes.
“We didn’t play as a team,” he said. “There were so many penalties, and we played as individuals. It wasn’t a team effort.”
The Buckeyes had 11 penalties compared to the Bobcats’ 10 and were outshot 35-32.
The Buckeyes played with a noticeably higher degree of intensity on Friday. Sophomore Cal Heeter replaced junior goalie Dustin Carlson in the starting lineup.
Midway through the first period, freshman Alex Carlson scored the first goal of his Buckeye career off a deflected shot.
The Bucks outshot Quinnipiac 25-7 in the first period.
Nine minutes into the third period, the Bobcats took their first lead of the contest.
Lampe scored his third goal of the series off an assist by Wong on a 2-on-1 to put his team ahead 2-1.
The game was put out of reach with a minute left when Quinnipiac scored on an open-netter by Mike Atkinson. The depleted Buckeyes skated off in the same fashion as the previous night.
OSU outshot Quinnipiac 45-28 but simply wasn’t able to find the back of the net.
Markell believes that looking toward the rest of the season, his team needs to focus on finishing games and playing a full 60-minute contest.
“In the first period we played well,” he said. “We were just unable to sustain it. We’ve got to educate ourselves on how to keep it going for a whole 60 minutes. We get tired, and we start to play poorly, and it’s not enough.”
OSU junior forward Sergio Somma knows that his team isn’t in the position they were hoping to be in but can overcome the adversary, nevertheless.
“We couldn’t start any worse,” he said. “We’re a good team, and this is the part where we battle adversity. It’s gut-check time for us. We’ll look in the mirror and then come out next weekend and see what we’re made of.”
The Buckeyes will have a true test to see what kind of team they have this year as they host Denver on Thursday and Friday. The Pioneers are ranked No. 1 by Inside College Hockey.