The Ohio State men’s hockey team opened its 2013-2014 campaign with a bang, routing the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, 9-1, in an exhibition game.
The Saturday game was the Buckeyes’ first under coach Steve Rohlik, who took over as head coach in April, and he said he thought the team performed well.
“Any time you can go out there and win, that’s important, but it is how we played that was the biggest takeaway from this game,” Rohlik said. “We played hard and unselfish. Our guys executed well today.”
OSU’s nine goals came on 41 shots, compared to the Varsity Blues’ 19 shots. Twelve Buckeyes had at least one point, with seven scoring multiple times.
Junior forward Tanner Fritz led the team with four points on two goals — both of which came in the second period — and two assists in the game. Following closely behind him was sophomore defenseman Craig Dalrymple, who tallied two goals and an assist for three points. Senior forward Alex Szczechura, junior forward Max McCormick and junior defenseman Justin DaSilva each contributed three points on a goal and two assists, and senior forward Alex Lippincott hit the back of the net twice.
Fritz said the team’s offensive play was solid, which he attributed to the unit being able to keep the puck low and wearing down Toronto’s defensive team. He said the team’s defense was a contributing factor to the victory as well.
“Offensively, we put up really good numbers, but I think we’re a strong enough defensive unit that I think both of them kind of fed off each other,” Fritz said.
Lippincott said a big component of the team’s victory was that it played as a cohesive unit.
“Everybody was making a play and everybody was contributing,” he said.
Time in the net was split between sophomore Collin Olson and freshman Matt Tompkins. Olson played the first 31:01, making eight saves on nine shots, and Tompkins was a perfect 10-for-10 in the final 28:59 of the game.
The Buckeyes took control early in the first period after a goal from Dalrymple at 9:54. Afterward, a rebuttal from Toronto third-year forward Michael Markovic at 13:42 off his own rebound tied the game. OSU answered with a goal from McCormick on a power play conversion. The Buckeyes outshot the Varsity Blues in the period, 11-8.
Led by Fritz’s two goals, the second period saw the Buckeyes hit the back of the net four times and extend their lead to 6-1. Fritz’s first came at 5:04 with help from Szczechura, and he scored again with an unassisted goal at 14:53. Lippincott added two of his own with back-to-back goals at 6:33 and 13:15. His first came with the help of DaSilva and junior forward Chad Niddery, and assists from DaSilva and senior forward Travis Statchuk allowed him to put the puck in the back of the net for the second time. OSU once again led Toronto in shots taken, firing 16 at the net, while the Varsity Blues only managed to get four off.
OSU carried the momentum into the third period, scoring twice in the first two minutes on goals from Szczechura and Dalrymple at 42 seconds and 1:52, respectively. The Buckeyes’ 14 third-period shots bested the Varsity Blues’ seven.
As the Buckeyes come off a 9-1 victory and head into practice to prepare to face Miami (Ohio) in their regular season opener, Fritz said the team can’t be complacent.
“It’s definitely a confidence builder, but we can’t just let it give us a big ego into Miami because we know they’re a great team,” Fritz said. “We’re going to go in level-headed and start the (regular) season off right.”
The Buckeyes’ regular season-opener with the Redhawks is slated for Friday at 7:05 p.m. at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.