In a game that was meaningless in the standings, the Ohio State men’s hockey team played with a purpose in its 7-1 exhibition win against the University of Guelph on Saturday.
The Buckeyes’ home-ice victory featured seven different goal scorers and near-perfect performances from the power-play and penalty-kill units.
OSU capitalized on the man-advantage, scoring on three of four power-play opportunities. Sophomore defenseman Drew Brevig ran the power play, picking up a goal and a pair of assists.
“(Brevig’s) the quarterback,” Buckeye coach Steve Rohlik said. “We just have to continue to build the chemistry. Power play and penalty kill are the difference between winning and losing.”
Freshman forward Matt Weis played on OSU’s first power play unit and finished the night with a power-play and even-strength assist.
“He’s got good hands and a good stick,” senior forward and captain Tanner Fritz said of Weis. “He’s great with the puck and I think he’s going to contribute a lot for us.”
Guelph, located in southern Ontario, Canada, was not as successful on the power play. The Gryphons did not manage a shot on two power-play chances.
Rohlik said he was pleased with his team’s penalty kill and its ability to stay out of the box until the third period when it took two minor penalties.
Fritz’s deflection gave the Buckeyes a 1-0 lead at the first intermission, but it was a four-goal second period that propelled OSU past the visitors.
Brevig, freshman forward Luke Stork, senior forward Chad Niddery and junior forward Tyler Lundey each scored in the second period to make it 5-1, then junior forward Anthony Greco and sophomore forward Nick Schilkey added two more in the third.
Sophomore goalies Christian Frey and Matt Tomkins split time in net. Tomkins made 13 saves through the first 30:17, while Frey turned aside six shots with one goal against in the game’s second half.
Guelph’s lone goal came three minutes after the goalie change when Gryphons’ second-year forward Robert De Fulviis fired a shot from the right face-off circle over Frey’s right shoulder.
Schilkey, who had a goal and an assist, said OSU’s conditioning was not a problem even though Saturday was the team’s first official day of practice.
“We had some good captain’s skates early on this year,” Schilkey said. “I think our conditioning is better than it was last year at this time.”
A long bench might have also helped the Buckeyes. OSU dressed 22 skaters, up from the normal 18, to give more players a chance on the ice.
Upperclassmen and underclassmen were interspersed throughout the lineup, Rohlik said.
“I thought we had four consistent lines,” Rohlik said. “Overall, everybody did well with not having regular shifts.”
Freshmen forwards Christian Lampasso, Stork and Nicholas Jones gave the home fans a look toward the future, taking multiple shifts together.
Combining the younger players was more an attempt to get them reps than develop chemistry between them, Rohlik said.
Stork’s goal in the second period was a check mark on his application to crack the team’s lineup next weekend. His tight-angle shot from the bottom of the left face-off circle beat Gryphons’ second-year goalie Chris McDougall high glove side. The goal was the eventual game-winner.
Stork and Weis were the lone Buckeye freshmen to get on the board. Three first-years were paired with upperclassmen on defense.
“All of (the freshmen) had a good game,” Schilkey said. “Coach is going to have some tough decisions to make.”
Rohlik said his team needs to build upon this victory, but also clean up its play through the neutral zone before this weekend.
“We’re doing a lot of stick checking instead of body contact,” Rohlik said. “We have to do a better job of getting in peoples’ way.”
Junior defenseman Craig Dalrymple did not play because of an undisclosed injury and sophomore defenseman Josh Healey was a healthy scratch. Sophomore goalie Logan Davis was dressed but did not play.
The lineup is set to be shortened and stakes will be higher when OSU opens its regular season at home against No. 3 Providence College next weekend.
The puck is set to drop on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.