The Ohio State men’s hockey team learned a lesson of appreciation this weekend. After losing 6-2 to Western Michigan on Friday, the Buckeyes (5-8-1, 1-1-0) were grateful for a scoring explosion in their 5-1 win against Notre Dame on Saturday at the Shillelagh Tournament in South Bend, Ind.
“I thought it was a big bounce back for us,” OSU coach Steve Rohlik said. “(Friday night) we cheated the game all over. Tonight we just stuck with the systems. We played hard and we played for each other.”
Saturday’s victory had an additional significance given the Buckeyes’ performance the previous night. After OSU allowed six goals for the first time this season on Friday, the team matched its largest single-game goal output for the season on Saturday, scoring five for the first time since its season-opener against Providence College.
“You have to play with a little swagger sometimes,” Rohlik said on Saturday.
OSU junior Blake Doerring opened the scoring on Saturday at 7:05 of the first period, tallying his first goal as a Buckeye and giving OSU the first goal of the game for the fifth time this season.
Doerring, listed as a defenseman, played forward alongside freshman forwards Nick Jones and Kevin Miller on Saturday.
Rohlik said the decision to move Doerring was a necessity as the Buckeyes were without two injured forwards, senior Matt Johnson and sophomore David Gust.
The Buckeyes carried a 2-1 lead into the first intermission, then senior forward Tanner Fritz’s second goal of the game and fifth of the season made it 3-1 after 40 minutes.
Backed by sophomore goalie Christian Frey, who finished the game with 29 saves, OSU preserved its lead and added a couple more goals in the third en route to its largest margin of victory this season.
“He was solid,” Rohlik said of Frey. “He saw the puck, he made the big saves and he looked confident.”
Senior forward Darik Angeli and freshman defenseman Victor Björkung also scored for the Buckeyes, while sophomore forward Nick Schilkey had three assists.
OSU’s win was made more impressive given the team played with a shortened bench for the majority of the third period after senior defenseman Justin DaSilva was issued a game misconduct for checking from behind.
DaSilva’s ejection was his second of the season as he was tossed from a game earlier this year for a similar play.
Saturday’s game came in stark contrast to Friday’s wherein the Buckeyes couldn’t come back from a 2-0 deficit after the first period.
Western Michigan took a 5-2 lead past the midway point of the third period, prompting Rohlik to pull sophomore goalie Matt Tomkins with 7:50 remaining in regulation. Tomkins returned to the game after Western Michigan’s next goal.
The unorthodox maneuver did not prompt change in momentum as the Broncos tacked on another goal, finishing with a 6-2 final and 36-22 shot advantage.
OSU’s first goal came on the power play from junior forward Anthony Greco while senior forward Chad Niddery scored the second.
The Buckeyes are set to resume their conference schedule Friday against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.
OSU finished 4-5-0 in November
The Buckeyes finished the weekend 2-6 on the power play and 5-5 on the penalty kill.
Björkung’s goal on Saturday was the first of his collegiate career