Exactly one year ago, Ohio State men’s hockey coach Steve Rohlik found his program 0-5 after a tough loss to Providence and looking for answers. It would not be until Oct. 31, 2015, when he and his team would grab their first win, making them 1-7 on the year.
After a dominating 6-1 win over in-state rival Bowling Green on Saturday night in OSU’s home opener, he now has his squad undefeated in their opening five games at 3-0-2 and ranked No. 19 in the country.
A night after a come-from-behind 5-4 victory on the road, led by senior captain Nick Schilkey in the third period, the forward opened up the scoring on Saturday for the Buckeyes. Schilkey’s goal came just five minutes into the period and catalyzed a quick 3-0 OSU lead after 20 minutes at the Schottenstein Center.
Schilkey and freshman forward, and Philadelphia Flyers draft pick Tanner Laczynski each added a goal to seal the Buckeyes 6-1 victory and a weekend sweep of the Falcons.
“I thought it was awesome,” Laczynski said. “After a victory at their place, I knew we needed to get the win here. To close it off with a win, you can’t beat that.”
OSU raced through its toughest part of its non-conference schedule with a win over then-No. 3 Denver and the sweep against the Falcons, who were predicted to win the Western Collegiate Hockey Association conference. Rohlik said the veteran leadership guided the team to a quick start.
“We’ve got a lot of resilient guys in that locker room and I think we’ve got great leadership,” Rohlik said. “When you’ve got guys like (Schilkey) and your other two captains, it becomes your culture. These guys expect to win and not just hoping we stay close. I think that’s what the rest of the team is looking at right now and I think that is what is leading this team.”
Schilkey, who manufactured three goals and an assist through the weekend, recognizes the depth and offensive firepower this team can produce on any given night, as the Scarlet and Gray lit the lamp 11 times against the Falcons in two games.
“We talked prior to the season about how we’ll try to get the young guys going, making them comfortable and confident in the lineup,” Schilkey said. “We’re four lines deep right now. We’re confident up front for sure.”
Not to be outdone, OSU senior goalie Matt Tomkins stopped 28 of the 29 shots sent his way in the win on Saturday.
Through five games last year, OSU had lost three one-goal games. So far this season, they have persevered to come out on top in close matchups.
“When you looked at our schedule and you looked at what we had on the road early on four out of the first five (games),” Rohlik said. “We’ve played four one-goal games already. It’s been kind of the norm for this team so today was a little not normal.”
OSU looks to continue its unbeaten streak as they head to Niagara Falls to take on Niagara next weekend for two games.