After 120 minutes, 10 goals and 87 shots throughout the weekend, the Ohio State men’s ice hockey team now finds itself on a three-game winning streak after sweeping Canisius College by final scores of 4-1 and 6-4 on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
The Buckeyes (3-7) saw goals from forwards Luke Stork, Matthew Weis, Anthony Greco and Brendon Kearney in Game 1 of the series, a game in which the Scarlet and Gray outshot the Golden Griffins (2-7, 2-2 Atlantic Hockey Association) 46-30.
The only speed bump on Friday night was due to Griffins’ senior captain Ralph Cuddemi’s fourth goal of the season two minutes and 38 seconds into the third period.
Kearney delivered a response with his first goal as a Buckeye with five minutes and 23 seconds remaining in the game, assisted by his freshman brethren in forwards Freddy Gerard and Dakota Joshua, who notched their first points as Buckeyes in the process.
“When someone knocks on the door like that and scores a goal, a sign of a good team is to bounce back and get one right back,” OSU coach Steve Rohlik said. “Certainly we’re making some steps in the right direction.”
Junior netminder Matt Tomkins got the nod to start the game, stopping 29 shots while his opposite in freshman Simon Hofley made 42 saves.
In Game 2, the ice at the Schottenstein Center was seemingly replaced by a tennis court, as both teams traded blows back and forth throughout the contest.
The first period was an offensive clinic, as five goals were scored. Cuddemi netted his second goal of the weekend three minutes and 29 seconds into the game. That was followed up with three OSU goals from forwards Mason Jobst, Weis and Nick Schilkey, before freshman defenseman Cameron Heath made it a 3-2 game at the 9:54 mark.
OSU powered ahead 5-2 after two periods with goals coming from junior forward David Gust and senior captain Craig Dalrymple, but the Griffins wouldn’t go quietly, as third-period goals from forwards Daniel LaFontaine and Shane Conacher cut the Buckeye lead to one with eight minutes and 46 seconds remaining.
“I don’t think there was any panic,” Dalrymple said. “On the bench, it was like, ‘OK let’s just buckle down, kill the rest of the period and we’ll win the game.’”
Despite Canisius’ best efforts to tie the game, the Buckeye defense stood tall, and an empty net goal from Greco sealed the win and the sweep for the Scarlet and Gray at the 19:29 mark of the third.
After managing just 12 goals in the seven losses that opened up the season, OSU has chalked up 15 goals in its last three home games.
A big key to the recent spike in lamp-lighting has been crashing the net and simply getting pucks there.
“Ever since the Mercyhurst series, we’ve hyped on getting guys going to the net,” Weis said after Game 2. “Today was a big part of everyone going to the net. Schilkey’s third goal doesn’t go in without Stork standing in front.”
Special teams played a huge role as well.
OSU’s power play went 3-of-6 on Saturday, while its penalty kill has successfully killed off the last 15 offenses committed, including six on Saturday.
It proved to be at its strongest after OSU junior defenseman Josh Healey committed a five-minute major penalty and a received game misconduct for contact to the head in the first period of the second game.
“The game puck went to our penalty kill,” Rohlik said. “We put ourselves in a bad position to take a five-minute penalty. That can be a turning point in a hockey game and our kill came up big.”
The Buckeyes will now have another bye week to get set for a trip out to the University of Nebraska-Omaha to take on the No. 6-ranked Mavericks.
Game times for both of those contests are set for 8:07 p.m. on Nov. 27 and 28.