Szczechura-Fritz-McCormick Line leads Buckeyes to 6-3 Win over No. 6 Western Michigan
Buckeye junior Alex Szczechura had his first career hat trick vs. the Broncos.
Feb. 16, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Buckeye line of junior Alex Szczechura and sophomores Tanner Fritz and Max McCormick combined for 11 points, leading the Ohio State men’s hockey team to a 6-3 victory over No. 6-ranked Western Michigan Saturday in Value City Arena. Szczechura notched his first career hat trick and four-point night, while Fritz had a goal and three assists for four points and McCormick had a three-point outing with a goal and two assists. Ohio State is now 13-12-7 overall and 12-7-5-1 to stand in a tie for fourth place in the CCHA. The Broncos fall to 18-8-6 and 14-6-4-2 in conference play.
The Buckeyes came from a goal down twice, closing out the game with four unanswered tallies for the win. Szczechura put Ohio State on the board just 1:44 into the contest but the Broncos tied the game at 4:18 and pushed ahead at 13:34 of the opening period. At 11:34 of the second Fritz knotted the game at 2 but the Broncos scored a power play goal 42 seconds later for a 3-2 advantage. Just 1:20 later Ohio State answered with a power play goal of its own from Szczechura, tying the game at 3. A little more than a minute after that McCormick put Ohio State in the lead and sophomore Darik Angeli made it a two-goal advantage 3:05 later, with Ohio State taking a 5-3 lead into the second intermission. Szczechura completed his hat trick at 5:22 of the third, the only goal of the stanza. Senior defenseman Brandon Martell had two assists in the game for his first career two-point outing.
Ohio State trailed 2-1 after the first period. Just 1:44 into the game Szczechura redirected a shot from the point from Martell past the Bronco goalie, with Fritz picking up the second assist, winning the faceoff to start the play. At 4:18 the Broncos’ Justin Kovachs put in a rebound to tie the game and Western Michigan took the lead at 13:34 when David Killip redirected the puck in out of the air off a crossing pass. Ohio State outshot Western Michigan, 10-7, in the period and had the only power play.
The Buckeyes outscored the Broncos, 4-1, in the second period, with all five goals coming in the final 8:26 (and four in a span of 3:10). Fritz tied the game at 2 at 11:34 with the teams skating 4-on-4, scoring from just outside the crease off a pass from McCormick who was behind the net. The Broncos regained the lead at 12:16, 42 seconds later, when Dennis Brown scored on the power play. At 13:36 Szczechura netted a power play goal of his own to tie the game, assisted by sophomore Ryan Dzingel and senior goalie Brady Hjelle, who led Dzingel into the zone. Just 1:08 later McCormick, Fritz and Szczechura combined for a goal by McCormick, giving the Buckeyes a 4-3 lead. At 17:49 a shot by Angeli trickled through, assisted by classmate Nick Oddo and Martell, for a 5-3 Buckeye advantage. Ohio State outshot Western Michigan, 17-10, in the period. The Broncos had three power play chances, with Ohio State 1-for-2.
Szczechura completed his hat trick at 5:22 of the third, finishing a 2-on-1 with Fritz, as McCormick picked up the second assist. Ohio State outshot Western Michigan, 12-8, in the period and each team had one power play chance.
In the game, Ohio State outshot Western Michigan, 39-26. Hjelle had 22 saves in all 60 minutes. WMU’s Frank Slubowski started and played the first 45:52, making 25 saves on 31 shots. Lukas Hafner came on in relief and stopped all eight shots he faced in 14:08.
Each team was 1-for-4 on the power play.
• Szczechura’s hat trick was the first of his career and his third career multiple-goal game. He had two tallies vs. Lake Superior State Jan. 26. It was his first career game with three or more points after eight two-point outings. He now has 10 goals and 19 points this season, ranking second and fourth on the team, respectively. It was the Buckeyes’ second hat trick this season after Dzingel scored three times vs. Penn State Dec. 29.
• Fritz had his first career four-point night and second three-assist game after three helpers at Lake Superior State Jan. 28, 2012. He is first on the team with 20 assists and ranks second with 27 points. He has a point in 10 of his last 12 games (4g, 10a, 14p).
• McCormick has a point in nine of his last 12 outings. The game was his third three-point night but first since Jan. 28, 2012 at Lake Superior State. He is third on the team with nine goals and 21 points.
• Dzingel leads the Buckeyes with 30 points and 13 goals. He is on a three-game point streak (1g, 3a, 4p) and has a point in nine of the last 10 games.
• Martell had his first career multiple-point game. He now has a personal-best three assists on the year.
• Angeli has a goal in three of the last five games and has four goals this season.
• Hjelle has an assist in two of his last three games. He is in the Top 10 nationally in goals-against average (1.79) and save percentage (.941).
• Ohio State scored six goals for the third time this season (all in the last seven games).
• Fritz and McCormick both were +4 in the game, with Szczechura +3.
• Ohio State allowed a power play goal for the first time in four games. The team is ninth in the NCAA, stopping 104-of-121 (86.0 percent) opponent chances.
• The Buckeyes are tied for eighth nationally in team defense, allowing 2.22 goals a game.
Mark Osiecki, Ohio State head coach
On recent success at home
“Our guys were extremely excited to be back in this building. It is a fun environment and it is only getting better.”
On Alex Szczechura’s nine goals in 15 games
“At times he was fighting for his right to play. He’s earned it though and he is very talented around the net.”
On offensive strategy
“It makes it hard on a defense when you put a lot of pucks on net. Our message to the guys was clear tonight - shoot.”
Tanner Fritz, Ohio State sophomore forward
On taking advantage of scoring opportunities
“It definitely helps our confidence. Even in practice we have been scoring a lot of goals and that can lead into games. I feel like we started scoring goals tonight and the whole team was feeling it. Anyone on our team can score.”
Alex Szczechura, Ohio State junior forward
On getting the hat trick and a win
“It’s always nice to get a big win and it feels nice to bang in a few goals as well. The pucks are just going in for me right now.”
On Ohio State’s offensive play
“Going to the net, pucks were just kind of landing at my feet so I had a few chances. That is credit to our whole team though. We did a nice job tonight of getting pucks to the net to create chances for us.”
On gaining home ice advantage for the playoffs
“We’ve been playing really solid at home. We want this to be our place to play. Going into the playoffs it will be big for us.”
Andy Murray, Western Michigan head coach
On facing Ohio State
“Ohio State was very good tonight. They were ready to play from the get go.”
On Western Michigan’s play
“I give my full compliments to Ohio State, they were faster to the pucks. Not enough of our people impressed me tonight.”
On final score
“When you don’t stay humble, you get humbled.”