COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State gave brand-new goalie Christian Frey plenty of goal support as the Buckeyes rallied to top Mercyhurst 6-3 on Saturday.
After trailing 3-2 10:10 into the second, the Buckeyes came back with four unanswered goals to finish the game.
Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin said he did not think the 6-3 score was indicative of how the game was played.
“I think [Ohio State's] high-end guys are true high-end guys,” he said. “Those guys made a few more plays and they had more poise at times and certainly being at home, they did not get rattled.”
Frey joined the short-handed goaltending group over the holiday break after starting the season with Dubuque of the USHL. Frey allowed three goals on 28 shots in winning his collegiate debut.
Frey had three practices with the team before dressing Saturday. He was called upon because earlier in the season, OSU was down to just one goalie.
Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik wasted no time getting a look at his junior hockey acquisition.
“The situation we were in, we decided we needed to bring in another goalie at Christmas,” Rohlik said. “We just felt it was important to get him in the mix right away, too. You talk about nerve-racking, here is a guy who barely knows our guys in the locker room.”
Matt Tomkins, the freshman who was the Buckeyes’ starting goalie before injuring his lower leg, dressed Saturday but is considered day-to-day by Rohlik.
The Buckeyes’ victory extended a nonconference winning streak to six games. The defeat snapped a five-game point streak for the Lakers.
The Lakers’ defense was stout early in the third as it prevented OSU from getting off a shot in the first 10 minutes of the period. Thanks to a power play, the Buckeyes broke the floodgates open as Tanner Fritz scored the eventual game-winner.
David Gust and Ryan Dzingel followed within two minutes of each other to extend a 3-3 tie to a 6-3 contest.
“[Mercyhurst] did a nice job of getting pucks out of their end,” Rohlik said. “All of a sudden, it just took that one. [Fritz] scores a big goal for us and all of a sudden, sometimes good teams smell blood like that.”
Gotkin said going into the third period tied at 3-3 that his squad was looking to win five-minute segments. Mercyhurst did well in the first pair of five-minute segments in the third period.
“And then we had an unfortunate sequence of events,” Gotkin said. “We had the trip on our goaltending and then obviously they have a good power play and they score there. And then right off the bat, they score on a five-on-five goal.”
Mercyhurst opened scoring as Edward DeWald trailed a two-on-one chance by the Lakers and put the puck past Frey 5:38 into the first. Just 23 seconds later, Chad Niddery sent a pass off a Lakers defender and was credited with the tying goal.
A fast-paced first period helped the Buckeyes shake off some rust after a 26-day layoff.
“Coming back, we had two good practices leading up to tonight,” Fritz said. “We were kind of ready to get back at it. [The first period] got our legs going, gave a feel for the game.”
Defender Justin DaSilva ripped a one-timer off the draw past Jimmy Sarjeant off a faceoff 7:20 into the second to give OSU a 2-1 lead. Mercyhurst answered 1:39 later as Ryan Misiak scored off a rebound.
The Lakers regained a one-goal advantage 10:10 into the second as Kyle Just tapped in Kyle Cook’s cross-ice pass into the net. The Buckeyes responded with a game-tying goal at 14:30 of the second as Nick Schilkey skated in from the left circle and beat Sarjeant’s stick.
“The start of the first period and the start of the second period we didn’t start very well,” Gotkin said. “But we got better in each of those periods so the challenge going into the third was to play a full 20 minutes.”
Ohio State (9-6) and Mercyhurst (9-8-2) will both finish their nonconference schedules against each other Sunday evening.