COLUMBUS, Ohio — With scoring contributions from four lines and a career-high 46 saves by rookie netminder Christian Frey, Ohio State posted a 5-1 victory over Penn State Friday night.
The junior class combined for 11 points on the night as Max McCormick and Ryan Dzingel each contributed two tallies and classmate Matt Johnson had the game-winner. Entering the weekend, the Buckeye junior class ranked third in the nation for total combined points, second in points per game with an average of 5.36.
With the win, Ohio State improved to 13-9-1 on the season, 3-5-1-0 in Big Ten conference play.
“It looks good when you look at a 5-1 win,” Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik said. “Also, you gotta turn around and look that we gave up 47 shots, but it’s a team that plays hard. They shoot from all over. I think our guys gave a great effort. We’ve just got to tighten up on a few things, but all being said, you never apologize for winning and I think we beat a very good hockey team tonight.”
McCormick lit the lamp first for the Scarlet and Gray, chipping one in top shelf from close range to put the Buckeyes on the board 1-0.
Despite posting only seven total shots in the second period, the Buckeyes went on a scoring spree, notching three more to extend their lead to 4-0 over the Blue and White.
Ohio State opened the scoring in the middle frame with two tallies spaced just 26 seconds apart.
Seconds after exiting the penalty box, en route back to the Buckeyes’ bench, Johnson found himself in a prime playmaking position when sophomore Tyler Lundey sent the puck up ice. Linemate Chad Niddery saw his shot blocked by McAdam, but Johnson cleaned up the rebound with a clean shot from between the circles at 5:31 of the period – his third goal of the season.
“I think [Johnson] had 18 people yelling at him to go back out there,” Rohlik said. “He didn’t realize the puck was behind him. If he would have realized, he probably would have just had a breakaway, but it ended up working out. So he just turned around, re-engaged. You know, his linemate there, Nids, was on the ice with him and created everything and all of the sudden, the puck’s back on his stick, so it’s funny how things work out.”
McCormick added his name to the score sheet again with a power-play goal from the bottom of the right circle at 5:57.
“Our power play’s been really hot this year,” McCormick said. “We’ve all been clicking and we’ve been trying to find five lines that’ll have some chemistry so we can produce more 5-on-5 and I think we did that tonight.”
Dzingel, the Big Ten’s top scorer, closed out the period with a shorthanded breakaway goal assisted by Nick Oddo.
In the final frame, each team tallied an unassisted goal.
David Goodwin put the Nittany Lions on the board with a power-play goal from the left circle at 3:55 to make it 4-1.
After coincidental penalties were called at 7:36 on Oddo and Penn State’s Zach Saar, Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky pulled goalie Eamon McAdam in favor of an extra attacker.
Dzingel capitalized on McAdam’s absence and nabbed an empty-netter at 8:29.
“Some [shots] were big,” Gadowsky said. “I think [Frey] did have to make some pretty big saves. We didn’t finish when we had a chance. [Ohio State] certainly did and that’s the difference.”