The Ohio State men’s ice hockey team (4-4-0) held on to an early lead and handed the No. 20 Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs a 4-2 loss.
After the opening period Saturday, the Buckeyes led, 2-0, off goals from senior forward Alex Szczechura and sophomore forward Tyler Lundey.
Although junior forward Max McCormick widened the gap with another Buckeye goal early, Duluth (4-3-1) made it a one-goal game by the end of the second period with goals from freshman forward Alex Iafallo and junior forward Caleb Herbert.
The Buckeyes were the only team to score in the third period, with an unassisted empty-net goal by junior forward Ryan Dzingel with 33 seconds left in the game.
Dzingel said Wednesday the games against Duluth were going to be fast-paced because the Minnesota team “likes to get up and down the ice.”
Szczechura said the team managed to hold its own against the Bulldogs’ speed.
“Our team as a whole can definitely handle a fast pace as a style of hockey we want to play, and tonight I think we played a good game — a very up-tempo game and very physical — and I think it helped us,” Szczechura said Saturday following the win.
Junior forward Nick Oddo said sticking with the fundamentals of the game was what led to the Buckeyes’ victory.
“Just keeping things simple,” Oddo said. “Coach (Steve Rohlik) always preaches to push the puck north, get it forward, chips, get pressure on their (defense), and I think doing those little things helped us.”
Freshman Matt Tomkins played in the net for OSU for the full 60 minutes, saving a career-high 39 shots.
The first game of the series was played Friday at the Schottenstein Center, where the Buckeyes fell to the Bulldogs, 3-1.
“I can’t fault our effort,” Rohlik said. “We made mistakes, and the mistakes we made ended up in our net.”
Despite losing Friday, Rohlik said it was one of the Buckeyes’ best performances so far this season.
“To be honest with you, I think we probably played a more complete game (Friday),” Rohlik said Saturday. “I thought we played in spurts tonight, I thought we were very good early, but they kind of took over maybe in the middle there.”
The Buckeyes, in the midst of a seven-game homestand, are slated to return to action Friday against Niagara at 7:05 p.m with the two-game series against the Purple Eagles concluding Saturday.