DENVER – The Ohio State men’s hockey team downed No. 3-ranked Denver, 3-2, Friday in the opening round of the Ice Breaker Tournament at Magness Arena in Denver. The game opened the 2016-17 season for both teams.
Ohio State will face Air Force in the tournament championship game at 6 p.m. Saturday. The Falcons defeated No. 5 Boston College, 2-1, in their first round matchup.
Ohio State 3, Denver 2, Briefly
The Buckeyes scored in the game’s first minute but a Denver goal at 14:06 of the first had the game tied after 20 minutes. Ohio State scored the only goals of the second period to carry a 3-1 lead into intermission. Denver made it a one-goal game with a power play goal 3:32 into the third, but the Buckeyes held strong for the win. Senior goalie Christian Frey made 16 of his 33 saves in the third period. Buckeye junior Matthew Weis had two points on a goal and an assist, while Matt Joyaux and John Wiitala also scored.
Quoting Coach Rohlik
“It was a nice start for our team playing a very good team on the road. We did enough to get the win. It was a great team effort.”
Quick Buckeye Start … but First Period Ends Tied
Just 29 seconds into the game the Buckeyes took a 1-0 lead. On a 2-on-1, junior Luke Stork found classmate Matthew Weis coming down the slot and he redirected Stork’s pass. Senior Nick Schilkey also assisted on the tally.
Denver tied the game at 14:06, forcing a turnover in the Buckeye zone. Tyson McLellan finished the play, scoring into the top corner.
Ohio State had five of the game’s first six shots but Denver took the momentum for the second half and ended the stanza with the edge in shots on goal, 12-6.
Buckeyes Score Twice in the Second
Ohio State scored the only two goals of the second period for a 3-1 lead through 40 minutes. At 7:26 redshirt junior Matt Joyaux, playing his first game for the Scarlet and Gray, blasted a shot from the point on a delayed penalty. Junior Janik Moser and Weis assisted on the goal.
With Ohio State on the power play, freshman Tanner Laczynski put a shot on net from the side that was saved. Sophomore Dakota Joshua had a second attempt that went toward the front and sophomore John Wiitala was right in front for the loose puck, scoring at 16:14..
The Buckeyes had the first five shots of the period and outshot Denver in the stanza, 15-6.
In the Third
On the power play early in the third period, Jarid Lukosevicius’s shot from the point got through to draw the Pioneers within one. Neither team had a power play the rest of the period.
With 1:54 remaining Denver pulled its goaltender for the extra skater. To close out the game, Christian Frey had four saves and the Buckeyes blocked four Pioneer shot attempts.
Ohio State was 1-for-3 on the power play, with Wiitala’s power play goal standing as the gamewinner. The Buckeyes stopped 4-of-5 Pioneer chances, holding Denver to six shots on goal in their opportunities.
Joyaux scored his first goal as a Buckeye. Laczynski’s assist in the second period was the first for a Buckeye rookie this year.
Senior goalie Christian Frey started for the Buckeyes and had 33 saves on 35 shots. For Denver, Tanner Jaillet played 57:46 and had 30 saves.
Noting the Buckeyes
• Schilkey, who entered the game ninth in points among current NCAA players, now has 90 points for the Scarlet and Gray.
• Wiitala’s goal was his fourth career gamewinner. He led the Buckeyes with three gamewinning tallies a season ago.
• Ohio State and Denver were playing for the first time since splitting a series in Columbus in October 2009. Ohio State is 5-6-0 all-time vs. the Pioneers, with wins in three of the last four matchups.
• Ohio State is making its third appearance in the Ice Breaker Tournament. The win over Denver was its first in the tourney.
• The Buckeyes are 28-23-3 all-time in season openers.