After earning its first series sweep of the season in two road games against University of Massachusetts Amherst, Ohio State (3-1-2, 1-1-0-0 Big Ten) moves on to play a set of games this weekend against nonconference opponent Robert Morris (2-3-0, 2-3-0 Atlantic Hockey).
The Colonials come into this matchup having split a pair of games against Army. Splitting the series has been the trend for Robert Morris thus far, as the team has alternated between wins and losses for all five games.
Robert Morris relies heavily on senior forward Brady Ferguson, who broke the Colonials’ single-season scoring record with 58 points in 38 games last season. The 58 points landed Ferguson fifth in the NCAA in scoring.
“[Ferguson]’s very good at faceoffs. He’s an excellent hockey player,” head coach Steve Rohlik said. “If you lose focus and lose where he’s at on the ice, he’ll make you pay, and certainly we have to be aware of it.”
The Buckeyes jumpstarted their power play in the first game of the series against UMass with two goals from junior forward Mason Jobst while on the man advantage. Ohio State began the season 0-for-20 on the power play before Jobst snapped its scoreless streak.
On the other side, the penalty kill continues to hold strong, as the man-down unit has given up only one goal through the first six games, killing off 20-of-21 power plays.
“It starts with guys buying in, and your goaltending, your goaltender is always your best penalty killer, and [redshirt junior goalie Sean Romeo]’s certainly been that for us,” Rohlik said.
Romeo continues to make waves for Ohio State as the season progresses, allowing just one goal in the UMass series and collecting his first collegiate shutout in the process. The Big Ten named Romeo its Third Star of the Week for his performances against UMass.
When looking back at his recent string of success, Romeo cited the performance of the teams in front of him rather as the primary factor behind his standout play.
“Everything in our zone has been awesome,” Romeo said. “With breaking out the puck quickly, not spending much time in our end, guys picking up bodies in front of the net, it’s making my job a lot easier.”
Ohio State sits eight votes away from a spot in the USCHO Division I Men’s Poll, and is trending upwards after two strong victories against UMass last weekend. The Buckeyes move back into conference play against No. 8 Notre Dame next weekend, so it might be Ohio State’s last chance to get the final bit of rust out of its system.
Both puck drops are set for 7 p.m. in the home-and-home series. The Schottenstein Center will be the venue for Friday and the Colonials Arena in Pittsburgh will be the scene on Saturday.