After opening the season on a three-game losing streak, the Ohio State men’s ice hockey team bounced back by sweeping Robert Morris over the weekend.
The Buckeyes (2-3-0) traveled to Pittsburgh Saturday for the second of the two-game home-and-home series against the Colonials (0-4-1), and pulled out a 4-3 victory.
Neither team managed to score until the second period, when the Buckeyes opened the gap to take a 4-0 lead after the first 40 minutes. Freshman forward Nick Schilkey tallied a goal 17 seconds into the stanza and junior defenseman Justin DaSilva raised the lead to 2-0 nearly a minute later. Freshman defenseman Drew Brevig added to the shutout with his first goal of the season at 13:03 with an assist from junior forward Max McCormick — his team-best fifth assist of the season.
Capping the second period was a late goal by sophomore forward Tyler Lundey on the power play with 11 seconds left.
The third period saw Robert Morris fall just short of a furious comeback. The Colonials cut the lead to 4-2 with two early goals at 2:23 and 4:07, and sophomore forward Zac Lynch narrowed the gap even more with a goal on the power play to make it a one-goal game with less than eight minutes to go. OSU managed to hold on for the remainder of the game, though, to clinch the victory.
The first of the two-game series was played Friday in Columbus, and the Buckeyes finished on top, 5-3, after overcoming an early two-goal deficit. The victory was the first of coach Steve Rohlik’s career as a collegiate head coach.
“We didn’t start out pretty tonight and we certainly have some things to work on, but what I liked about our team tonight is they weren’t going to let it (a loss) happen to them again,” Rohlik said during a press conference after the game Friday. “We have a good group. We bounced back and fought hard. Good teams find a way to win, and we did that tonight.”
After trailing the Colonials by two goals early in the first period, the Buckeyes scored five straight to put a victory out of reach for Robert Morris.
“I think it was that our guys just finally said, ‘Enough is enough’ and ‘Let’s get after it,’ and that was kind of the mentality on the bench, and the guys were ones talking like that,” Rohlik said.
Among those who were being vocal was senior forward Travis Statchuk.
“We took it upon ourselves to find a way to win tonight,” Statchuk said Friday. “Coach challenged us between periods and we went out there, stuck to our plan and got it done.”
Robert Morris got a goal back during a power play in the third period, but it was not enough and the Buckeyes held on for the victory.
Junior forward Nick Oddo said the team’s preparation to play more physically was a contributing factor to the win.
“We’ve been working on that all week — driving the net, getting bodies around, second-chance opportunities — and it worked out for us tonight,” he said Friday after the win.
The Buckeyes are slated to return to action Tuesday in a non-conference rematch against Bowling Green, who beat OSU 4-3 Oct. 15. The puck is set to drop at 7:05 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.