COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ryan Dzingel, the Big Ten’s scoring leader, stepped up in a big way for Ohio State with a three-point second period effort to lead the Buckeyes to a 5-2 win over Penn State Saturday.
Ohio State (14-9-1, 4-5-1) has won three consecutive games. Penn State (4-17-1, 0-8-0) is still searching for its first Big Ten win, as it is 0-8 in Big Ten play.
In a 21-hour span, Dzingel had six points, helping one of the most prolific offenses in the nation, as OSU averages 3.63 goals per contest. Dzingel has 36 points this season, nine ahead of Minnesota’s Sam Warning.
“Coach looks to us, especially our power play, to get the job done,” Dzingel said. “We know that we are looked at to put points on the board. I guess when things are going well, you have confidence, so we are trying to keep that going.”
With a young team in its second year of playing at the Division I level, keeping Guy Gadowsky’s Nittany Lions focused has been a challenge.
“We are certainly not naive to how great these (Big Ten) programs are,” Gadowsky said. “We know it is going to take some time but at the same time, you have a room full of competitive guys that are working extremely hard and results have not been extremely easy to come by. That is why it is a tremendous league, as we all anticipated.”
Saturday’s contest was a bit more defensive than Ohio State’s 5-1 win Friday evening, where the Nittany Lions outshot the Buckeyes 47-32. In Saturday’s game, Penn State edged Ohio State in shots 26-24.
Penn State had its first multi-goal lead in conference play as the Nittany Lions took a 2-0 lead in the first period.
Ohio State responded with five unanswered goals. Ohio State’s first two goals came off the power play. The Buckeyes have the league’s best power play at 22.7 percent.
“We had a great start, but two power-play goals will negate that quickly,” Gadowsky said. “We certainly had a good start but couldn’t sustain it.”
“Our power play has been good all year,” Rohlik said. “You score goals like that to get the game evened up, again our team didn’t panic and I think our guys said, ‘Hey guys, let’s play our game’”
Penn State’s Dylan Richard got on the board 2:31 into the first as he sent a wrister past the glove of OSU goalie Christian Frey. PSU added a second goal 6:47 into the first as Casey Bailey sent his shot from between the circles past Frey’s blocker.
“We knew the way they were going to come out; we just didn’t answer the bell early,” Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik said. “But the one thing I saw was a hockey team grow up today. I am proud of these guys. They never panicked; they went into the locker room and talked about what we needed to do and got back to the basics. And then your big time player came up today.”
After trailing 2-0 through the first, Ohio State jumped on Penn State to start the second. After Dzingel failed on a breakaway chance, he helped teammate Tanner Fritz get the Buckeyes on the board 2:07 into the second.
Dzingel sent a slapper past Penn State goalie Matthew Skoff 1:29 later to knot the game at two.
With 1:07 left in the second, Dzingel and Nick Oddo set up Anthony Greco for the eventual game-winner.
Max McCormick and Darik Angeli added insurance goals in the third period to put the game out of reach. Ohio State clamped down defensively, allowing four shots on net.
“If you look at the third, we were down one goal going into the third with a chance to produce and we had four shots,” Gadowsky said. “You have to credit them with how they came out in the third.”
Penn State returns to Happy Valley next week to host Michigan, while the Buckeyes visit East Lansing to take on Michigan State.