COLUMBUS, Ohio — In a 5-1 win over the Sacred Heart Pioneers, it was the youthful enthusiasm of one Buckeye line that did most of the damage.
The rookie line of Domenic Maiani, John Dingle, and Tom Fritsche was responsible for three of OSU’s five goals — Maiani’s second and third of the season, Dingle’s second, and assists by Fritsche on all three.
“We goof around. We have fun,” said Fritsche. “It’s a fun line. We don’t like to get too serious about it.”
Another freshman, goaltender Ian Keserich, earned his first win of the season, stopping 16 as the Buckeyes outshot the Pioneers 48-17.
OSU head coach John Markell said he was “very happy” with Keserich’s play. “thought he made some good saves. Hopefully he’ll continue to grow in that position.”
The Buckeye effort extended beyond the freshman class. Junior Rod Pelley’s power-play goal at 18:14 in the first, his sixth on the PP this season and seventh total, opened the scoring for the Buckeyes and made it 1-0 after a frustrating first period during which OSU couldn’t solve Pioneer goaltender Kevin LaPointe, who stopped 23 in the opening stanza alone.
“Kevin played outstanding all night,” said Sacred Heart head coach Shaun Hannah. “We didn’t play our game plan all night, from start to finish. The way Kevin played the first period kept it close.”
Maiani’s first goal of the night at 1:22 was the only scoring action in the second period. Fritsche passed to Maiani, who was crashing the net, and Maiani backhanded it in cleanly on LaPointe’s glove side to make it 2-0.
It was Maiani again at 3:15 in the third, skating in alone and crossing in from the left circle to the right of the net to pull LaPointe away enough give the Buckeyes a 3-0 lead. Dingle padded that at 6:31, taking a sweet cross-slot shuffle from Fritsche to make it 4-0.
Kalen Wright gave the Pioneers their only goal of the night at 12:32 on the power play, after Buckeye Nate Guenin received a five-minute major for spearing and a game disqualification. At 15:20 — still shorthanded from Guenin’s infraction — Matt Beaudoin added OSU’s fifth goal.
“I think after Ohio State scored that first goal they really turned up their game,” said Hannah. “These games against a team like Ohio State when you’re not playing your game plan and you’re not executing the way you need to, it results in shots on net, good scoring opportunities against, and a lot of times goals against.
“We spent a lot of time in the second period just watching.”
“We were just flying around today and creating chances down low, using our speed,” said Maiani. “My linemates certainly helped me.”
Markell said he’s comfortable with an all-rookie line on the ice. “They’re hockey players and they’re going to try their hardest and give us what they got. That’s what I expect from them and that’s what our team expects from them. They did some things out there that weren’t freshman moves.”
The newly-formed line — how old can it be, after all? — took shape last weekend when Dingle was added to the duo of Fritsche and Maiani. Markell said that Maiani and Fritsche have chemistry.
“They get along together. They hang out together. Those two kids compliment each other and it would be nice if we could keep them together for the next four years.”
Pelley, who had 10 goals for the entire 2003-04 season, said he’s enjoying his position at right point on the power play. “I’ve got Domenic, Dan Knapp, and Sean Collins up top. We’re just doing a high roll and getting pucks on net. I’m just shooting … and it’s working out right now.”
OSU went 1-for-5 on the power play to SHU’s 1-for-6. LaPointe made 43 saves in the loss.
The Buckeyes (6-3-0, 5-1-0 CCHA) meet the Pioneers (3-4-0, 3-0-0 AH) again Saturday at 7:05 p.m. in Value City Arena.