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Ohio State men’s hockey completes 1st series sweep of season against Penn State

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Freshman forward Nicholas Jones scored his first career goal and senior captain Tanner Fritz extended his point streak to four games as the Ohio State men’s hockey team snagged its first sweep of the season against Penn State.

On Friday, the Buckeyes bounced back from a 1-0 deficit early in the first period to beat the Nittany Lions, 5-3, before winning by the same score Saturday at the Schottenstein Center.

OSU snagged the back-to-back wins after splitting its previous two series against Michigan and Wisconsin.

Ten players tallied points for the Buckeyes on Saturday, including three points from Fritz alone.

Sophomore goaltender Christian Frey led the way for the Buckeyes defensively, saving 70 shots in the series.

“He’s been pretty good for us, there’s no question,” coach Steve Rohlik said. “He’s steady, he’s comfortable. Right now all we’re asking is that he gives us a chance and he’s certainly giving us a chance every night.”

The Arlington, Texas, native credited the defense for his success.

“They were doing a lot in front of me,” Frey said. “They are always blocking shots and clearing the shots in front of me.”

The defense amplified its intensity throughout the series, limiting Penn State to 27 shots on Saturday. Junior defenseman Sam Jardine said OSU’s newfound intensity is because of the Buckeyes’ playoff mentality.

“We’ve been talking about playing desperate playoff hockey,” Jardine said. “And that’s what happens (when) the intensity picks up, the physicality picks up, blocking shots, it’s just a by-product of us wanting it a little bit more.”

In addition to ramping up their defending, three defensemen also notched tallies for the Buckeyes with senior Justin Dasilva and Jardine scoring Saturday and sophomore Josh Healey scoring Friday.

Even though the Buckeyes were successful this weekend, Fritz said OSU isn’t taking time off, as the team is beginning to prepare for Minnesota this coming weekend.

“(The win) just builds confidence going into next weekend, but as coach says, preparation starts Monday,” he said.

Rohlik is finally able to see what his team is capable of producing as the Buckeyes took on Penn State with a healthy roster, he said.

“I envisioned what this team was and I don’t think we had the opportunity these last couple months for injury reasons and different things like that,” Rohlik said. “But these guys stayed with it and this is the time to peak. We’re excited and we know we have some huge challenges ahead of us but were just going to take it one step at a time, one game at a time. That’s our attitude.”

The Buckeyes are set to return to the Schottenstein Center ice for the last time this season against Minnesota on Friday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 6 p.m.

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