COLUMBUS, Ohio – With a 4-1 win over Niagara in Value City Arena Saturday, the No. 9-ranked Ohio State men’s hockey team closed out a weekend sweep of the Purple Eagles, improving to 12-4-4 overall this year. The Buckeyes won 3-2 over Niagara (9-9-1) Friday night and close out regular season nonconference play undefeated with a 7-0-3 record. Ohio State has a 7-1-2 ledger in its last 10 games.
Ohio State has 14 Big Ten Conference games to wrap up the regular season. The squad travels to Michigan State next weekend (Jan. 5-6) and Penn State the following weekend (Jan. 12-13). The Buckeyes then have a bye before hosting Michigan Jan. 26-27 in Value City Arena.
Ohio State 4, Niagara 1 - The Short Story
Just one minute into the game Matt Miller put the Buckeyes on the board and Matthew Weis followed with a power play goal at 7:02 for a 2-0 Buckeye advantage. Midway through the first period the Buckeyes killed a five-minute major, including nearly a minute of 5-on-3 advantage for Niagara. Late in the period Niagara got on the board for a one-goal game through 20 minutes. Weis scored the only goal of the second period and Ohio State outshot the Purple Eagles 16-4 in the stanza for a 3-1 Buckeye advantage heading into the third. John Wiitala gave the Buckeyes a three-goal edge with an early goal in the third, set up by Ronnie Hein, his third of three assists (all first assists) in the game. Freshman Tommy Nappier made 27 saves in his second career start, including stopping all 12 shots he faced in the third. The Buckeyes ended the game 4-for-4 on the penalty kill and 2-for-5 on the power play to win the special teams battle.
🚨🚨🚨🚨Highlights from the 4-1 win over Niagara, featuring two goals from Matthew Weis and tallies from Matt Miller and John Wiitala. Ronnie Hein had the first assist on three goals and Mason Jobst had two helpers. pic.twitter.com/6md6eZ26UY
— Ohio State M Hockey (@OhioState_MHKY) December 31, 2017
Quoting Coach Rohlik
On maintaining and increasing a lead, compared to giving up a lead last night
"I think we played the right way tonight. That was the difference. We stayed with it. Last night we played the right way for a little bit of the game and give a lot of credit to Niagara. Tonight we were a better hockey team and I think that was the difference. Special teams, our penalty kill – there was a big momentum swing with the 5-on-3 and killing those penalties; it’s the little things like that, that make the difference"
Quoting senior forward Matthew Weis
On the penalty kill
"We always talk about it, it’s our bread and butter. All the guys look forward to it. Like coach says, the best penalty kill is not taking penalties, but I think all the guys really want to step up and help the team out and we look forward to going out there, blocking shots and doing what we can to keep the game at what it is."
— Ohio State M Hockey (@OhioState_MHKY) December 31, 2017
In the First Period
Buckeye sophomore defenseman Matt Miller scored a goal in a third straight game, one-timing a backhand pass from Mason Jobst 60 seconds into the first period for a 1-0 Buckeye lead. Michael Rounds also had an assist on the tally, Miller’s fifth of the year. At 7:02 Matthew Weis put in the rebound of a shot by Ronnie Hein, with Tanner Laczynski getting the puck down low with the Buckeyes on the power play.
At 11:09 a Buckeye was assessed a major to put the Purple Eagles on the power play. Niagara took a penalty 1:25 into the major to make it 4-on-4, but a second Buckeye penalty gave Niagara 4-on-3 advantage, which turned to a 5-on-3 chance for nearly a minute. The Buckeyes held the Purple Eagles to just three shots on goal with the extra man.
Niagara got on the board with 34 seconds left in the stanza, when Nick Farmer scored from the high slot.
Shots were 16-12 in favor of the Buckeyes in the period.
In the Second Period
With Ohio State on the power play, Matthew Weis completed a tic-tac-toe play for a 3-1 Ohio State advantage at 14:01. Mason Jobst passed to Ronnie Hein by the net and he found Weis outside the crease for a quick shot.
Ohio State outshot Niagara, 16-4, in the period. Each team had one power play chance.
In the Third Period
The only goal of the third was scored at 2:15. Ronnie Hein carried the puck up the wing and he found John Wiitala driving the net and he was able to shoot it past the Niagara goalie.
The Purple Eagles had 12 shots in the stanza and Ohio State put seven on net. Niagara had one power play chance and the Buckeyes were 0-for-2, with the last chance coming with less than two seconds remaining.
Blocking the Puck
Ohio State put 39 shots on net in the game, with Niagara posting 28. Buckeye freshman goalie Tommy Nappier, making his second career start, had 27 saves in 59:56. Niagara’s Brian Wilson made 35 stops in 59:37.
Ohio State held an opponent to one or fewer goals for the 10th time this season (third time in four games) and is in the Top 5 in the NCAA in team defense, allowing 2.05 goals per game.
The Buckeyes were 2-for-5 on the power play, the fourth game with multiple power-play tallies this season.
The Buckeye penalty kill was 4-for-4 and is now 69-for-75 (.920) to rank first nationally on the PK. The squad has allowed just two power play goals in the last nine games.
Noting the Buckeyes
• Ronnie Hein’s three-assist game was the second of his career and first since Oct. 22, 2016 vs. Bowling Green.
• Matthew Weis had the fourth two-goal game of his Buckeye career and second this season after scoring twice at UConn Nov. 10. He is on a four-game point streak (2g, 4a, 6p) and has a point in six of his last seven games. On the year, he has a 7-12-19 line.
• Mason Jobst had his sixth multiple-point outing of the year and now has a 9-12-21 line this season. He has a point in each of his last four games (2g, 5a, 7p) and in all but six games this year.
• The Buckeyes closed out their six-game homestand 4-1-1, with wins in the last four games.
• Tanner Laczynski leads the Buckeyes with 16 assists and 25 points on the year and has a point in each of the last four and 10 of the last 11 games (6g, 10a, 16p).
• Ohio State is 8-0-2 when scoring first this season.
• The Buckeyes and St. Cloud State are the only teams in the NCAA without a nonconference loss this year.
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