Any time you made the NCAA tournament last season and can tie both games with a team that went 8-28 last year, you have to take it and run. And thankfully, Ohio State hockey found a way to do just that.
If Friday night’s game was just poor luck as OSU outshot Rensselaer by 23 shots, Saturday afternoon’s game was just poor all around. The Buckeyes were the more talented squad, but only outshot RPI 28-23 and fell down almost immediately in this one.
The Engineers scored just 56 seconds into the first period, as Evan Tironese scored his first of the year on Sean Romeo. That’d be all that RPI would get, and Ohio State would even it up (for good, it turned out) just 2:16 into the second as Christian Lampasso scored his first of the year, with Luke Stork and John Wiitala registering the helpers.
And that’s your scoring summary for the entire game.
Shots and opportunities were much harder to come by for the Buckeyes in this one compared to Friday night, as only six shots were registered on RPI in the first, with six more coming in the second.
In the third, OSU finally woke up from their two period-long slumber and put up 15 shots on Chase Perry. So of course he stopped every single one. Both teams had three powerplays each, with Ohio State registering seven shots on goal during the man advantage. None went in.
Ohio State did win the shootout, 1-0, as Tanner Laczynski scored as the Bucks’ third shooter. So OSU won the shootout that doesn’t count for anything in both games this weekend. So they won both games, from a certain point of view. Not mine or anyone who’ll look at OSU for NCAA Tournament consideration, but someone’s for sure.
Look, the Buckeyes’ hockey team lost big talent upfront from last season and the shooting percentages were bound to regress to the mean. But you have to beat Rensselaer at least once when you play them at home to open your nonconference schedule. Friday’s game was bad luck, but there’s no excuse for outshooting a markedly worse team on paper by five, especially when you were down for a whole period.
It’s fitting that on Ohio State hockey’s social media night, I’m mad online regarding this game. But, if this team has any NCAA or Big Ten aspirations this season, they’ve got to start putting on the pressure more consistently, every game, on inferior opponents. They did that too frequently last season and got away with it with a higher than sustainable shooting percentage.
That doesn’t look to be happening this year so far. But luckily, the Buckeyes have time to get it together, and they’ll look to turn it up a notch next weekend at UMass. I’d feel much better about that matchup in football than I do in hockey.