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College Hockey:
Strong Start, Big Finish: Ohio State Sweeps Union

— Three first-period goals and two stanza-ending tallies proved too much for the Dutchmen to overcome as the Ohio State Buckeyes beat Union, 6-1, completing a two-game nonconference sweep.

Three Buckeyes had multi-point games, with sophomore Tom Fritsche leading the scoring, netting his sixth goal of the season and adding two assists. In his fourth game since returning from an injury, senior Dan Knapp earned his first goal of the season and had a helper as six different Buckeyes registered goals in the game.

“I thought we had more jump tonight,” said OSU head coach John Markell. “Who knows how to explain it? Exams or whatever, lactic acid from a good skate. I thought we did a good job of keeping our shifts short and completing our checks. The way we want our team to play takes energy.

“I thought it was a good solid effort tonight. Obviously, when you score some goals it’s not as critical when you make mistakes. We got a little bit of a buffer and I thought we used it well, but I was very happy with our consistency.”

In Saturday’s 2-1 win, the Buckeyes saw their two-goal lead cut in half with less than two minutes to play in regulation when Union’s Scott Seney scored on a six-on-four power play. OSU was down two men again for the last 22 seconds in regulation Saturday night after taking a bench penalty for too many men on the ice.

Sunday afternoon, the Buckeyes scored within the first three minutes of the contest and in the final 1.5 seconds of the first, taking a 3-0 lead into the second period.

“I think that tonight’s game was a pretty good lesson in hockey,” said Union head coach Nate Leaman. “I don’t think it had to do a lot with Xs and O’s. I thought they won the battles. I thought their feet were moving right from the start and they shot the puck to score.

“We had 30 shots on net, but I don’t know how many really had the potential to score a goal. I give a lot of credit to them. They came out and they wanted it a lot more than we did.”

Fritsche opened the scoring for the Buckeyes at 2:31 in the first on a play that began at the right point with Tyson Strachan. Strachan fired and Union goaltender Kris Mayotte made the save, giving up the rebound and a wide-open net to Fritsche on the right.

Bryce Anderson made it 2-0 on the breakaway at 11:25, taking Mathieu Beaudoin’s pass from center ice and firing from the top of the slot.

The third goal of the stanza came on the OSU power play with less than two seconds left on the clock, a Rod Pelley rocket from the top of the right circle with Union’s Scott Brady in the box for roughing.

“It was a poor penalty by us, so you put yourself in that situation,” said Leaman. “And then they popped the goal. They scored with 1.5 [seconds] left in the first and about a minute to go in the second. That puts kind of a nail in the coffin in a lot of ways. It’s tough to come out of the locker room with momentum after that.”

The Buckeyes went up 4-0 on Dan Knapp’s goal at 5:50 before Josh Coyle netted the sole Union marker at 10:55, but Buckeye Matt Waddell’s shot from the top of the left circle just five seconds after a boarding penalty to Dutchman Brendan Milnamow expired with 52 seconds left in the second made it 5-1 and robbed Union of any chance of coming back.

Kenny Bernard added a shorthanded goal for OSU at 16:59 to cap the game.

Ian Keserich had his second 30-save night of the weekend en route to posting his first consecutive career wins. Keserich was subbing for senior Dave Caruso, who will be out following knee surgery until the Ohio Hockey Classic Dec. 29-30.

“He took advantage of his two starts, and that’s what you want to see,” said Markell. “What he has to learn is that we do have a No. 1, and he takes the bulk of the time, but to prepare himself accordingly. You never know when your chance is going to happen.”

In his sixth loss of the season, Mayotte stopped 24 of 29 through two periods before being replaced by Justin Mrazek, who made six saves on seven shots in the third.

“I didn’t think it was our goaltenders’ fault. Not at all,” said Leaman. “I thought they shot the puck with a purpose this weekend. Even last night, we outshot them 10-3 in the first period, and that one [OSU] shot, man, that was for a purpose. That’s something we have to continue to improve upon within our program.”

Both the Dutchmen (9-7-2, 3-3-0 ECACHL) and the Buckeyes (9-6-2, 6-4-1 CCHA) break until holiday tournament play. Union heads to Minneapolis for the Dodge Holiday Classic, facing host Minnesota Dec. 29 and either Canisius or UMass-Lowell Dec. 30. OSU stays home to host the Ohio Hockey Classic at Nationwide Arena, and will face Holy Cross Dec. 29 and either Miami or RPI Dec. 30.

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