COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State Buckeyes started dominantly Friday against the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers, winning 6-2 victory as they got the game’s first 11 shots on goal. The Buckeyes only had one win in their previous five games.
“We told them since day one you are going to have to take a lot of baby steps and you are going to go through growing pains,” Ohio State head coach Mark Osiecki said. “This is just another step for us and this certainly alleviates guys grabbing their stick a bit tight. And that is one thing I talked about going into the game, ‘Let’s just go out and play hard for each other.’”
“When you don’t make a conscious decision from the drop of the puck to compete, we knew from a just a little bit of reviewing a little bit of game tape that we knew they play hard,” Chargers head coach Chris Luongo said.
The Buckeyes scored the game’s first goal 2:10 into the first as Sergio Somma floated a backhanded wrist-shot past the glove of Alabama-Huntsville goalie Clarke Saunders after he corralled a rebound from a C.J. Severyn shot.
Several minutes later, Kris Reed sent forward Sebastian Geoffrion into the Chargers’ bench with a check. Forward Justin Cseter retaliated against Reed and was called for a roughing call. On the delayed whistle, Geoffrion was charged with a hook. The two calls gave the Buckeyes a 5-on-3 power play for two minutes. Ohio State only needed 42 seconds to convert. Danny Dries sent a shot past the glove of Saunders from a rebound off a Shane Sims shot.
OSU outshot UAH 18-5 in the first period and the Chargers only had several scoring chances in the opening frame.
Despite being outshot and out-chanced in the first two periods, the Chargers got the game within one when UAH forward Jamie Easton beat Buckeyes’ goalie Cal Heeter to make the score 2-1. Heeter was way out of position and Easton’s shot was a simple backhander into the wide-open net with 7:11 left in the second.
Ohio State came firing to start the third. Ohio State forward Peter Boyd scored on yet another rebound off Saunders on a Dries shot with a loose puck in the crease to put Ohio State up 3-1 1:12 into the third. The Buckeyes scored 2:13 later when forward Alex Lippincott scored on a wraparound under the stick of Saunders to put OSU up 4-1.
“We have to stick with what has been working with us,” Osiecki said. “By that, we still wanted to take care of the puck at the blue-lines. That has been a constant theme for us. At times you saw it in the first period where we turned the puck over, made it really difficult for our forwards to track down.”
The Chargers had an answer for Lippincott’s goal. While on a power play, defenseman Tom Durnie’s shot went off Boyd and over the glove of Heeter to make it a 4-2 game with 14:42 remaining in the game.
Ohio State answered less than 5:08 later. Following a roughing drawn by Dries on Keenan Desmet, Boyd scored his second of the period while on the power play with a slapper past Saunders’ glove to put the Buckeyes up 5-2.
Dries got his fourth point of the game when he made a nifty past to his left to Alex Szczechura to beat the glove of Saunders at 13:09 of the third to give Ohio State a 6-2 lead. The goal was Szczechura’s first of his collegiate career.
“Sporadic effort doesn’t usually pay off,” Luongo said. “I don’t know if it is a preparation thing but what needs to get them in the right frame of mind? It is awfully hard when you let a team generate momentum and confidence to turn that back and we did get some sporadic effort in the second. Once again, that is never enough.”
The line of Szczechura, Boyd, and Dries combined for nine points in Friday’s match.
“We did a pretty good job tonight, we still have stuff to prove but overall it was a pretty good effort by the three of us,” Boyd said. “I was pretty happy with that.”
“Alex (Szczechura) hasn’t been on the score-sheet but he has been doing everything from a team standpoint from day one,” Osiecki said. “He leads the team in hits. Fortunately for him, tonight he was rewarded. It got the monkey off his back.”
Heeter’s job in net was easy stopping 13-of-15 shots against. Saunders had a tougher go with stopping 35 shots on 41 against.
Alabama-Huntsville had two late misconduct penalties by sophomores Desmet and Geoffrion in the last half of the third period.
“Everyone is frustrated and (the misconducts) end up being an easy way out to do that,” Luongo said. “They have been told that is unacceptable. That is what we are not about. Not to mention when you’re losing a game like that, there is no place for it.”
Ohio State has a goal differential of plus five this season despite holding a 3-5 overall record. The Chargers drop to 1-7-1 on the season and have a seven game winless streak.