Last weekend, the Ohio State men’s hockey team got its flagging offense in gear.
Friday night, the Buckeyes found their power play.
Ohio State scored a season-high four power-play goals – including three in a span of 2:03 – on the way to a 6-3 win over No. 9 Notre Dame in front of a season-high crowd of 5,779 in Value City Arena.
“When you have an opportunity to start practicing and keeping some guys together and get some chemistry going, certainly guys understand where they’re at and they can make some plays,” head coach Mark Osiecki said of the man-advantage success. “If you’re just throwing a different guy in here and there, it makes it really hard for players to pick that up and have the same confidence. Playing with the same guys right now, it’s outstanding.”
Nick Oddo – who took a hit in the corner that led to a five-minute major that changed the game – had a hand in all three rapid-fire OSU tallies early in the second, while Ryan Dzingel scored twice to extend his point streak to five. In addition, Alex Szczechura, Anthony Greco and Justin DaSilva each had a goal and an assist as the Buckeyes extended their winning streak to three games.
The Buckeyes also evened their record on the year at 11-11-5 and moved into a tie for fourth place in the CCHA with 34 points (10-6-3-1), just two points behind the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, lost its sixth in its last seven contests.
The game changed with just 9.4 seconds to play in the first and Notre Dame holding a 1-0 lead after a first-period power-play goal by Mario Lucia. With OSU on the man advantage, Oddo was hit into the boards from behind by Mike Voran, earning the Irish forward a five-minute major and game misconduct.
“It had a big impact,” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said. “You’re playing well, then a major penalty can take you right off your game for that extended period of time. I’m a little disappointed and surprised that our penalty kill – in the first half, we were over 90 percent on our penalty kill. Second half it has dropped off with the same personnel, so it’s just frustrating.”
What happened next was a surprise simply because of the score sheet – Oddo entered with only two points in eight games after missing much of the first half with an injury, while the Buckeyes had scored only 11 power-play goals on the season.
But the OSU sophomore forward got the Buckeyes on the board just 1:09 into the second, putting in a rebound as the teams battled in the crease in front of goaltender Steven Summerhays.
The Buckeyes took a 2-1 lead at 2:45, as Notre Dame got caught on a shorthanded rush. Oddo and Dzingel went the other way on a 2-on-1, with the former feeding the latter for an easy slam past Summerhays at the left post.
Just 27 seconds later, Oddo was at it again, as he tried to put a backhanded rebound past Summerhays only to see Riley Simpson clean up the mess into an open net to make it 3-1.
“It’s a good feeling just to get back in the swing of things,” said Oddo, who had 10 points as a freshman a year ago. “This is my third week back, so I’m just getting used to playing again. I have a lot of energy and jump out there. I feel like it’s a new season for me since I missed two months there, so it’s a really good feeling.”
Notre Dame (16-11-0, 12-7-0-0) came back with a pair of tallies of its own, though. Kevin Lind came in as the trailer on a Fighting Irish rush and put a shot past OSU’s Brady Hjelle as the teams played 4-on-4. Just 54 seconds, the Irish tied the score at 3 on the power play as Bryan Rust was left alone and front and picked his corner, beating Hjelle over the glove.
OSU wasn’t going to stop, though, as Greco gave the Buckeyes the lead back at 16:05 of the second. The freshman’s slap shot from the center point looked harmless, but it went off of Summerhays and trickled across the line.
“The fourth goal, the one after us coming back, was the killer,” Jackson said. “We needed to have that save.”
The Buckeyes quickly made it 5-3 on the power play, as Dzingel fired in a power-play goal at 17:51 for his team-high 12th tally of the year. The sophomore took a pass in the slot from McCormick, who was below the goal line, and fired quickly past Summerhays.
“I thought our response in a lot of different situations was very good,” Osiecki said of his team’s resilience. “That’s the one thing that’s been consistent with our team all year is our response has been pretty good whether we score or not or whether we win or not.”
Ohio State gave up 12 shots to Notre Dame in the third but the Irish didn’t have any serious scoring chances, and DaSilva set the final score at 19:02 with a 120-foot lob that settled into an open net for his first career goal.
“I thought the third period was tremendous,” Osiecki said. “We played very disciplined, we were very stingy. I think they understood what a two-goal lead is.”
Hjelle made 29 saves for the Buckeyes, while Summerhays stopped 20 of 25 shots. Mike Johnson came in to play the third and turned aside all seven shots he faced.
The teams meet again Saturday night at 7.
OSU finished 4 for 9 on the power play. The team’s previous season high for PPG in a game was two. … Szczechura has five goals in his last eight games. … Tanner Fritz extended his point streak to seven with an assist. … Greco has three goals and three assists in five games since coming back from injury. … OSU co-captain Curtis Gedig was injured late in the game, and Osiecki said he’s questionable for Saturday’s game. Gedig had two assists, giving him six in his career in seven games vs. ND. … Notre Dame has had to replace its goalie in three of its last four games in Columbus. … The Buckeyes also had a five-goal period Saturday in the first period vs. Lake Superior State. OSU hadn’t scored as many as 12 goals in back-to-back games since January 2009 vs. Bowling Green.