2013-14 Season a Step Forward for Buckeye Hockey

By Aubrey Nelson on March 25, 2014 at 3:45p
Patience you must have, young padawans.

Photo: Larry Radloff/Ohio State University


In some ways the 2013-14 Ohio State men’s hockey season turned out exactly as expected. The Buckeyes were expected to finished fourth in the inaugural run of the Big Ten. Goaltending was expected to be a story. Ryan Dzingel was deemed a Player to Watch.

All of those predictions came good. The Bucks did indeed finish fourth in the B1G, earning points against each of their Big Ten brethren. Six of their nine conference losses were essentially decided by a single goal. Overall the team won 18 games, their highest win total since 2008-09. They made a serious run at the Big Ten tournament, but fell just a little short.

What was rather unexpected was the team’s offensive explosion. Last season Ohio State had the nation’s 45th ranked offense. They scored an average of 2.38 goals per game. This season they rocketed up the charts, ranking 15th and scoring 3.19 goals per game.

2013-14 Buckeye Leaders
Points Ryan Dzingel (46)
Goals Ryan Dzingel (22)
Assists Dzingel, McCormick, Fritz (24)
GWG Ryan Dzingel (5)
PPG Ryan Dzingel (8)
SHG Ryan Dzingel (2)

The numbers are probably a little skewed by a weaker non-conference schedule, but anyone who saw the Buckeyes play this season will tell you the offense looked better this season than last. They will particularly say this about the power play which jumped from a 38th ranked 15.2% success rate to a 14th ranked 20.4%.

Of course Ryan Dzingel was a huge part of Ohio State’s dangerous offense. The junior had a career year, recording 22 goals and 24 assists. He tied for B1G lead in points (27), goals (14), and power play goals (6). He also cracked the top ten in the nation in points (46) and goals (22).

Along the way Dzingel passed 100 career points. In addition to his offensive prowess, he was also a force to be reckoned with on the penalty kill. His outstanding season didn't go unnoticed. He's one of ten finalists for this season's Hobey Baker Award. (Speaking of which, have you voted yet today?)

Ryan Dzingel was kind of important to the Bucks

Dzingel wasn’t the only Buckeye to enjoy an upswing in point production. Anthony Greco, Tyler Lundey, and Sam Jardine all bettered their freshman point totals. Chad Niddery, Max McCormick, and Justin DaSilva also posted career seasons. Nick Oddo destroyed his previous best (5 goals and 5 assists) with a campaign total 9 goals and 21 assists this season.

Goaltending was a story in 2013-14, though not in the way it was expected to be. Instead of which goalie from the squad would win the starting role, the story was whether the Buckeyes could dress enough goalies to qualify as a squad. Collin Olson departed seeking more playing time. Matt Tomkins suffered a freak injury. The last man standing, Logan Davis stepped into the Buckeye net and performed well. In fact he recorded Ohio State’s only shutout of 2013-14.

Christian Frey arrived in relief and stole the show in the second half. He was, statistically speaking, the conference’s third best goalie - third in GAA (2.24) second in SV% (.930) - after Adam Wilcox and Joel Rumpel. For all the upheaval and uncertainty surrounding the position, the Buckeye goalies finished the season with respectable numbers.

2013-14 goalie stats gm w l t GAA Sv% Sho
Logan Davis 5 3 2 0 2.21 .909 1
Christian Frey 16 9 4 3 2.27 .929 0
Matt Tomkins 17 6 7 2 2.78 .911 0

First year head coach Steve Rohlik and assistant coaches Joe Exter and Brett Larson, as well as the rest of the Buckeye staff seemed to do a great job of bringing out the best in their players. To accomplish that while moving the program toward a new system and coaching philosophy was impressive.

Their high flying offense and gutsy never-say-die team was fun to watch and it showed in this season’s attendance figures. A shade over 96,000 tickets were sold for Buckeye hockey games in 2013-14. That’s an average of nearly 4,600 per game. Those are the highest totals in all the years for which Ohio State’s website provides stats (2008-present).

Attendance was up in the inaugural Big Ten season

The games’ actual attendance varied. I can provide eyewitness testimony for all but three home games, though. Once the conference season arrived the crowds were good, right on through the end of the season. That attendance boost promised by joining the Big Ten? It looks like an actual thing.

2013-14 Buckeye Leaders
Plus/Minus  Nick Oddo (+23)
Faceoff Win % Max McCormick (60.1)
Shots Max McCormick (120)
Blocks Justin DaSilva (85)
Penalty Minutes Sam Jardine (41)

The program has a way to go yet. Ideally the team will be challenging for the Big Ten’s regular season title. They won’t need to strive for the conference’s auto bid in order to make the NCAA tournament. The arena will be packed every night.

Realistically, however, the program has made significant progress over the last few seasons. 2013-14 was better than 2012-13 which was better than 2011-12, etc. There’s every reason to think things will continue to improve under the direction of Rohlik. This season may have ended disappointingly for Ohio State fans, but on the whole it should give them encouragement about the future of Buckeye hockey.

On a personal note, it has been my very great pleasure to take you through this season of Ohio State hockey. I hope you have enjoyed the journey as well. Most of all, I hope you look forward to following Ohio State hockey next season at the arena, on television, and of course right here at 11W. In the meantime, I’m heading back to Deadly Nuts where you’re welcome to drop in if you need a hockey fix this summer.


Comments Show All Comments

Dirty419Boy's picture

Dzingel is a stud but Frey's emergence made the season exciting.

Thanks for the Puckeyes coverage this year Mr.Nelson and 11W. 

+2 HS
Aubrey Nelson's picture

Glad you enjoyed the coverage :)

cmmosu81's picture

Hey, Dirty, did you notice Aubrey's photo? She's a Ms., not a Mr.  :) 

+3 HS
Crumb's picture

This year especially the last half has got me excited for the Hockey Bucks future, hopefully I'll be able to afford some tickets for next season!!

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

PalmettoNut's picture

Thanks Aubrey.  You did a great job covering these guys and without you many Buck fans wouldn't know this team existed.

I have higher hopes for next season as I saw this team finish strong.  Heck, they took down #1 during a championship tourney and looked as good as any NCAA hockey squad could.

Fight to the end....

+3 HS
NC_Buckeye's picture

Good job Aubrey. Your coverage was outstanding. Most definitely will be checking into Deadly Nuts... hopefully for recruiting coverage?

Question for everyone: what's a sure fire way to get into Steve Rohlik's doghouse to start the 2014-15 season? How about finishing the 2013-14 season as the team leader in penalty minutes. Right Sam Jardine?

+1 HS
Aubrey Nelson's picture

Thanks. Yep I'll be rambling about the future Buckeyes at DN. I'm sure there will be some coverage here around Draft time too. In fairness to Jardine I think he only beat out Max McCormick for the PIM lead by a couple minutes. They're definitely two of the Buckeyes' more fiery guys. 

cmmosu81's picture

Some things are a matter of perspective. Compared to the games I watched when I was a student, 41 penalty minutes seems low, lol!  Couldn't find stats for individual records online, but I did spot a record for most penalty minutes by a single team in one game - 150!!! OSU vs NMU, Jan 30, 1981.  That's more than 60% of our whole season's minutes, in one game! Things were different back then, man!

OK, I dug through some old keepsakes and found my 1980-81 and 1982-83 press guides:

1974-75 Hugh Prentice - 134 PIM

1975-76 Jim Kish - 137

1976-77 Greg Kostenko - 151

1977-78 Brian Jenks - 101

1978-79 Dan Mandich - 126

1979-80 Dan Mandich - 146

1980-81 Dan Mandich - 188

1981-82 Dan Mandich - 157 for a career of 617!!  Guess why his nickname was Biff, lol! 

Minutes aren't broken down, but I'd guess the majority were for roughing, back then.

I also found this online - 1988 OSU team total for penalty minutes - 1,353 over 40 games, or 33.83 per game (compared to I think it was 247 this season).  Just seems too high to believe, doesn't it?

NC_Buckeye's picture

Sounds like we both got to experience the Jerry Welsh years. My freshman year the Buckeyes actually did pretty well in the CCHA. The 1983-84 season they finished 2nd and if memory serves we were ranked #1 until losing to Bowling Green (Jerry York took that team to the NCAA finals which BG won in 4 OTs).

Are you a writer CMM? How did you get press guides?

[Edit: Nevermind... I just checked your profile:

Former OSU Lantern sports editor and hockey reporter.

You and Aubrey probably should have a beer some time. You can trade Buckeye hockey "war" stories. ;-)   ]

cmmosu81's picture

NC, yes, I was around Buckeye hockey for part of Jerry Welsh's tenure; from 1977-84, on and off (lived in Florida part of 81 and 82), one season as the Lantern hockey reporter - the Pooleys were freshmen that year and were a fun interview, with a great story about their high school coach shaving the right eyebrow off one of them and the left eyebrow off the other so he could tell them apart, then promptly forgetting which one he had shaved which eyebrow off of! 

I kinda miss the old days in the smelly old ice rink. It was much more intimate and spirited, even when Bowling Green fans outnumbered Buckeye ones for our games against them.  <sigh>

Actually, I met Aubrey a couple years ago through her Deadly Nuts blog, and got my season ticket seats right by her this past year.  For next season, the Scarlet Liners fan group is trying to gather us hardcore fans to all sit together.  I hope that happens. It would be more fun if I wasn't the only person in my section to be cheering out loud and making O-H-I-O with my arms, lol! Aubrey's usually too busy taking notes to participate.  :)  If I were Aubrey, I'd take advantage of being allowed in the press box, but if she did that, then I'd miss having someone knowledgeable to chat with, so I'm not really complaining. 


MN Buckeye's picture

As someone who lives in Minnesota and loosely follows hockey but religiously follows everything OSU, I appreciate the hockey coverage, Aubrey. This has been a great season for the hockey Buckeyes, and while I like to see the Gophers do well (as they often are ranked very high nationally), OSU may be challenging them more in the future.

Hovenaut's picture

Good season, and although I saw very little OSU hockey I very much appreciated the coverage. Well done Aubrey.

Seattle Linga's picture

Aubrey I really enjoyed your wall to wall coverage all season long. Frey was a beast in the crease and so wish they would have pulled the last game out in OT.

+1 HS
Horvath22's picture

Thanks so much, Aubrey.

NC_Buckeye's picture

BTW Aubrey, I've been talking you & your blog up to other college hockey fans. Especially the artwork. (Always get a kick out of them.)

Aubrey Nelson's picture

Thanks for the kind words, everyone. That you've found my articles worth your time, as well as worth passing along to others, is tremendously flattering. I've gotten a kick out of "talking" to you all here this season. (Though I'm still not good at remembering to check for new comments!)