Shelby Lum / Lantern photographer
The Ohio State men’s ice hockey team has shown signs of coming out of a season-long offensive slump over the past two weekends.
The Buckeyes have scored a total of 17 goals in their last four times out, including a pair of six-goal performances against Notre Dame Friday and Lake Superior State on Jan. 26.
OSU’s defense, namely senior goalie Brady Hjelle, has carried the team to its current 11-11-6 record.
The Buckeyes rank sixth nationally in team defense, allowing 2.14 goals per game. Hjelle’s save percentage, .945, is tied for second-best in the country.
Offensively, the Buckeyes haven’t been quite as elite, as OSU sits tied for 46th out of 59 NCAA Divison I teams in average goals scored per game.
The power play has been an area of particular weakness for the Buckeyes. Coming into Friday’s game against the Fighting Irish, OSU was scoring on just 10.3 percent of its power plays. During the two-game series, the Buckeyes scored five power-play goals on 11 attempts.
One of those goals came as a direct result of the team’s preparation for a specific power-play scenario.
“We changed up the five-on-three right before the game. The coaches told me I was going to be on it. We worked it around. (Sophomore forward Tanner) Fritz brought it up, I slid down and put it away,” said freshman defenseman Craig Dalrymple following Saturday’s tie.
OSU coach Mark Osiecki said his team, which has recently regained numerous players who were out for injuries, is benefitting offensively from being able to practice with a more complete roster.
“When you have guys that are constantly together and understand their positions, you get good chemistry and that’s what was out there tonight,” Osiecki said after Friday’s 6-3 victory.
OSU sophomore forward Ryan Dzingel said his teammates coming back from injury was the boost the team needed to sure up its power-play attack.
“The other guys that filled in, they played a big role. It wasn’t clicking and it was just time. We just had to take time, keep working, doing the little things, and it finally paid off,” Dzingel said.
Dzingel also said the team has stayed positive all season, even when they weren’t playing as well.
“We try to have the most fun on and off the ice,” Dzingel said. “It’s just a plus that we’re scoring goals now.”
The Buckeyes will look to continue building their offensive chemistry Friday against Alaska at 11:05 p.m. in Fairbanks, Alaska.