Well, that was an interesting ride. After dominating the first 3 quarters completely, Ohio State gave up 7 goals in the 4th quarter to eke out a 16-13 victory over the visiting Bison of Bucknell. And it was an interesting game, to be sure.
Offensively, both teams played outstanding. No two ways about it. Bucknell just played at an elite level in Q4 after going down 8 goals through three quarters.
Prior, the Bison were doing well, just not well enough to really keep it as close as the visitors would have liked. Ohio State played an exceptional three quarters, only to limp home with a meager 2 goals in the final stanza.
Overall, both teams shot spectacularly. Ohio State finished the game with a shot percentage of .457, which is just absurd.
The Buckeyes had a whopping 71% of their goals be on target. True freshman Jack Myers exploded for 7 goals and an assist, leading all scorers with 8 points.
Sophomore Colby Smith had 3 goals and 2 assists, while Jack Jasinski and Tre Leclaire were relatively quiet with 3 points each. Myers is the biggest story of this game, as his ability to score from X could really make the difference in B1G play, and the tourney, if the Buckeyes make it.
That, of course, will depend on the defense.
For most of the year, it seems, the defense has been excellent early, then really imploded late.
Through 3, the D had only allowed 6 goals, and 21 shots. Once the 4th hit, everything fell apart. Bucknell had 12 shots, 9 on goal, and scored 7 times.
That's abysmal, and the result of a complete lack of focus defensively. The 2 new poles have some excuse due to lack of experience, but Evan Riss, Ryan Terefenko, Logan Maccani, and Omari DeBerry have been around a while.
To give up 7 goals in a single quarter is shameful. Especially to Bucknell. It's a one off, certainly, and it didn't result in a loss. But this should be a wake-up call to the entire defensive unit.
You HAVE to finish games at this level, no plays or entire quarters off. Every B1G team can make you pay if you decide to quit trying. It's especially frustrating considering how well the rest of the team did.
At the faceoff X, Justin Inacio was excellent, going 20 of 27 and helping the Buckeyes win 9 of 10 faceoffs in the 4th quarter.
Basically every time Bucknell scored, Inacio got OSU the ball back, only for Bucknell to take it away and go score again. It's incredible to see how well OSU did against the best FOGO Bucknell has ever had, and then realize the team only won by 3 goals.
OSU won 67.7% of the faceoffs over the course of the game, and helped the team to an 8 goal lead, only to watch it evaporate. There's not much else to be said.
The Inacio-Feliziani is performing exceptionally well, and they will only get better.
In goal, Josh Kirson got the start once more, recording 9 saves in the first 3 quarters of the game. Kirson only had 2 in Q4, allowing the Bison to blitz the Buckeyes for 7 tallies.
As a body of work, 11 saves is pretty good, but to only have two while an opponent scores seven is certainly not ideal. Every defensive player struggled in the final quarter, so it is not as though Kirson stuck out specifically, but I am not sure that the goalie competition is fully resolved.
Hopefully this was just a blip.
On special teams, I mentioned in the preview that the Buckeyes needed to limit Bucknell's opportunities on special teams. That didn't happen, and thus allowed Bucknell to score 3 goals in 5 Man Up opportunities.
Ohio State continues to struggle on Man Down, and really needs to lock things down if they want to make it far in the postseason. The Buckeyes managed to score once out of the three times they had an extra man.
That's respectable, but doesn't offset the extremely poor performance on Man Down. Special teams have been hounding Ohio State the past two years, and it needs some attention to stop being a thorn in the side of the team as a whole.
It certainly wasn't the prettiest of wins, but Ohio State is 4-0, with a trip to Texas for a game against Marquette on the horizon. There are lots of things to work on this week for the Buckeyes, because now the meat of the schedule is upon them.
Marquette is the first game of an increasingly difficult slate, and top 10 teams are right around the corner, ready to exploit the Buckeyes' weaknesses. Buckle up, folks, it is going to get a lot more exciting.
Up next: vengeance.