STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Ohio State was the final Big Ten team to make the trip to Pegula Ice Arena this season, but the Buckeyes made it a memorable one by beating Penn State 4-2 on Friday night.
Like many before him, the building left an impression on Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik.
“I can see how [this place] gets loud,” Rohlik said.
Penn State managed to outshoot Ohio State 42-30 despite only getting two goals past Buckeyes’ netminder Christian Frey.
The Buckeyes opened the scoring with production from their leading scorer Ryan Dzingel at 9:07 of the first period. The junior scored his 19th goal of the season on the power play after some tic-tac-toe passing with Max McCormick and Tanner Fritz.
“What [Dzingel] does on nights where he doesn’t have points are some of his better games,” Rohlik said. “That’s where he’s grown up a lot and matured a lot.”
While the first period was rather quiet, the second period became a festival of goals as the two teams scored four goals between them.
Dzingel started it when he scored a near carbon copy of his first, this time connecting with Nick Oddo and Nick Schilkey at 3:08 of the second period.
“He’s probably the most skilled player in the Big Ten,” PSU defenseman Nate Jensen said of Dzingel. “He’s very deceptive, but he can also use his speed, too. His best attribute is obviously his shot. If you give him room in the slot, he’s going to bury it.”
Penn State looked like they were going to be able to keep up with the Buckeyes when a slapper from Mike Williamson took a deflection and found the net at 5:14 of the second period.
Then Oddo and Schilkey each added a goal to give Ohio State a three-goal lead. Both goals came just 35 seconds apart, with Oddo scoring his eighth of the year at 6:50 and Schilkey his 12th at 7:25.
Frey continued to frustrate the Nittany Lions as he stopped several scoring chances, but did allow one past him heading into the second intermission.
Frey finished the game with 40 saves.
While Ohio State’s scorers continued to look for more, Penn State found itself in a wee bit of trouble.
Williamson found himself in the sin bin for an extended stay after he received a five-minute major for cross-checking when he crunched Dzingel into the boards. After being a little slow to get up, Dzingel had to be helped off the ice.
It was a sigh of relief for the Buckeyes when Dzingel was able to continue with 4:33 of carryover power-play time at the start of the third period.
Dzingel told the media after the game that he “tweaked” his back, but felt good enough to return for the final period.
Penn State looked to be in further trouble after having too many men on the ice, but Ohio State couldn’t light the lamp despite the open ice.
The only goal in the third period came of the stick of Penn State’s Jonathan Milley after a scramble in front of the cage at 18:05 of the third period. It was his first of the season, but it was too little, too late for Penn State.
“We’ve just got to come out of the gates a little bit hotter,” Milley said.
Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said that the game was Milley’s best since arriving in Happy Valley, despite a game in which his team “didn’t play a smart game.”
“I’m definitely not happy,” Gadowsky said. “At the same time, you have to give them credit.”