Nov. 8, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Behind 10 points from the line of Tanner Fritz, Max McCormick and Alex Szczechura and 30 saves from goalie Matt Tomkins, the Ohio State men’s hockey team skated to a 4-1 win over Niagara Friday in Value City Arena. Ohio State has now won five of its last six games and is 5-4-0 overall (0-0-0 B1G). The Buckeyes and Purple Eagles (1-5-1, 1-1-1 AHA) will close the two-game series at 8:05 p.m. in VCA.
“I thought we had a really good week at practice and thought we were prepared, but I have to tip my hat to Niagara because they came out and played us physical,” Steve Rohlik, Ohio State head coach, said. “It took us a little bit to get going.”
The teams were scoreless after the first period and Ohio State took a 1-0 on a goal by Fritz late in the second period. Ryan Dzingel pushed Ohio State’s lead to 2-0 with a power play goal at 12:16 of the third. At 18:17 Niagara made it a one-goal game but McCormick responded just 10 seconds later for a 3-1 Ohio State advantage and McCormick then sealed the victory with an empty-net goal 60 seconds after that.
Fritz, who missed the last five games because of injury, had a career-high tying and team-high four points in the win with a goal and three assists. McCormick had two goals and an assist to match his career high of three points, while Szczechura had a personal-best three helpers. Tomkins had 30 saves in the victory, his fifth of the season and second-consecutive 30-save outing.
“It felt nice to get the goal because the team needed a boost,” Fritz said. “When you throw pucks on net, good things happen.”
Neither team was able to score in the opening 20 minutes, with Tomkins stopping 10 Niagara shots and the Purple Eagles’ Jackson Teichroeb turning aside six Buckeye attempts.
The game remained scoreless until Fritz posted his first goal of the year with 1:58 left the second period. He scored on the rush, beating the goalie far side, assisted by McCormick and Szczechura. Shots were 13-12 in favor of Niagara in the stanza.
With Ohio State on the power play in the third period, Szczechura found Dzingel at the far post and he was able to score at 12:16 to put the Buckeyes ahead, 2-0. Fritz had the second assist on the goal, Dzingel’s third of the season. Niagara’s Ryan Rashid scored soon after a faceoff at 18:17 to get on the board but on the next play, Craig Dalrymple started the play up ice to Fritz and he got the puck to McCormick on a 2-on-1, who scored just 10 seconds after the Niagara goal for a 3-1 Ohio State lead. With the Niagara net empty and less than a minute remaining, Ohio State won the battle for the puck in its defensive end and Szczechura and Fritz were able to get the to McCormick, who converted on a long shot with 33 seconds remaining in regulation. Ohio State outshot Niagara, 11-8, in the period.
The Buckeyes were outshot, 31-29, in the game. Tomkins played 59:53 and had 30 saves, dropping his goals-against average to 2.78. Niagara’s Teichroeb had 25 stops in 59:23.
The Buckeyes were 1-for-5 on the power play and held the Purple Eagles scoreless on six chances.
Ohio State has scored four or more goals in five of its last six games and is now averaging 3.44 goals a game to rank in the Top 15 nationally.
McCormick, who has a point in all but two games this year, took the team scoring lead with 10 points and has a team-best seven assists. Dzingel and Szczechura are tied for second with six assists and nine points each. Dzingel has scored in seven of eight games this year.
Fritz had the second four-point night of his career, matching his total Feb. 16 vs. Western Michigan. It was his third three-assist game and first since the game vs. WMU. McCormick now has four career three-point games, with the last in that same game vs. the Broncos. It was the second multiple-goal game of his Buckeye career and first since scoring a hat trick at Lake Superior State Jan. 28, 2012. Szczechura’s three assists were a career best; his last outing with multiple assists was Nov. 4, 2011 at Alabama-Huntsville.
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