The beauty of hockey, compared to say football, is that you can’t keep the puck away from your star players even if you wanted to. It’s a meritocracy when three forwards are on the ice. The ones best at carrying the puck and setting up teammates are the ones who are going to get the most passes. The ones who can get open and skate most quickly get the puck in corners or from the other team. Steve Rohlik could not have kept the puck away from Nick Schilkey even if he bizarrely planned for it on Saturday night.
Schilkey led the Buckeyes to a 6-1 victory over Bowling Green in Ohio State’s home opener in Columbus. He had two goals and an assist in the victory, as 11 Buckeyes had at least a point in the dominant performance. Matt Tomkins played like he had prior to Friday’s shaky outing and the team rolled.
OSU would take a 3-0 lead into the first intermission, and not let up from there. Schilkey scored the first one, from David Gust and Josh Healey at 5:38 (Nate Silver nods in approval). Gust would double up the lead just over six minutes later, at 11:51, with assists from John Wiitala and Mason Jobst. Matt Weis then added a third at 15:56 on a redirection of a Josh Healey pass to make it 3-0. Tanner Laczynski got the secondary helper.
The Buckeyes outshot Bowling Green 14-10 in that first period despite going up so early. The Falcons just couldn’t get anything going even with Ohio State out to the early lead. The Bucks weren’t sitting back and content with defending that advantage they’d gained on the scoreboard.
The second would start out much the same as the first ended. Matt Joyaux scored off a rebound on a shot from Ronnie Hein to make it 4-0 Buckeyes. Sam McCormick had the secondary assist for his first collegiate point. Former Buckeye great Max McCormick, now with the Senators, is probably smiling somewhere, proud of his brother.
Pierre Luc-Mercier would end Tomkins’ shutout bid at 7:48 of the second, but that’d be the only scoring BGSU would get on him. Schilkey brought the advantage back to four just 19 seconds later, with the lone helper going to Drew Brevig during a 4-on-4 situation. The captain brought his team right back when given the opportunity right after the goal. Put your best players in a position to best help the team (hint: please use Curtis Samuel).
OSU was outshot 11-10 in the second period, but with going up by four goals that early in the game, it’s not strange for them to subconsciously sit back a little bit and allow BGSU more control than they were allowing prior. And it’s hard to complain when OSU got the only goal they allowed back within 19 seconds.
The third would be a quieter affair, with Laczynski scoring his second collegiate goal (his shootout goal doesn’t count unfortunately), on a rebound off another Hein shot. Tanner came into this one with 12 shots in four games, tied for second on the team behind only Mason Jobst, with 15. The kid looks like the real deal and could explode as he gets more comfortable. Oh yeah, and he’s also tied for the team lead in scoring with six points in five games.
Tomkins made 28 saves on 29 shots, and there’s really nothing more you can ask of the guy. Hopefully for his sake he keeps stringing together these strong outings, because two goalie options are certainly better than one. The team certainly could have used Tomkins playing like this last season as Christian Frey faltered down the stretch.
The Buckeyes will take this show on the road next weekend and look to stay (officially) undefeated as they travel to Niagra Falls to take on unranked Niagra. The Bucks will be heavily favored in the series and should stay undefeated. But even the Warriors can blow a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals, so who really knows.