The recently created Big Ten men’s hockey conference has been less than kind to the Ohio State Buckeyes.
But, in coach Steve Rohlik’s return to his alma mater, the Buckeyes (12-9-1, 2-5-1-0) were able to pick up their second conference victory after a series split against No. 9 Wisconsin (14-7-1, 5-3-0-0).
The lone victory on the weekend for OSU came in comeback fashion Saturday, a 3-1 outcome that ended a four-game winless skid.
After a scoreless first period, the Badgers snatched the lead midway through the second on a goal by senior forward Mark Zengerle. But less than two minutes later, OSU freshman forward Nick Schilkey skated past two opponents before lifting a backhanded shot into the roof of the net.
The Buckeyes took the lead for good less than four minutes later when junior forward Nick Oddo punched in a rebound after sophomore defenseman Sam Jardine’s shot from the point wasn’t held.
The Badgers pulled their goalie in the final minutes in search of the tying goal, but instead it was the Buckeyes who scored as junior forward Darik Angeli dispatched the puck into the empty net with just 12 seconds remaining.
Rohlik said his team figured out what it needed to do to get back to winning ways after its four-game winless streak.
“We’ve played close with a lot of teams but we couldn’t seem to find a way to win,” Rohlik said. “Tonight we found a way to win.”
Freshman goalie Christian Frey made 36 saves to record his third victory of the season, and Rohlik described him as “the best player on the ice.”
However, things did not go quite as well for the Buckeyes Friday night, as they fell to the Badgers 5-3.
Within the first eight minutes, the Buckeyes were already down 1-0 and also without Oddo after he was given a game misconduct penalty for checking Wisconsin senior forward Jefferson Dahl from behind.
Afterwards, Oddo wasn’t pleased with his decision on the play.
“It was a little frustrating. I shouldn’t have done it,” Oddo said in an interview with U.S. College Hockey Online. “(The game misconduct penalty) was the right call.”
Despite losing one of their top scorers in Oddo, the Buckeyes still nailed in the next two goals to take a 2-1 lead in the second stanza.
But OSU gave up three goals in succession between the second and third periods, a sequence that proved to be decisive in the home team’s victory.
Up next, the Buckeyes are scheduled to return home to take on last-place Penn State (4-15-1, 0-6-0) in another Big Ten matchup. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. Friday, while Saturday’s game is slated for a 2 p.m. start.
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