After a troubling loss to UMass last week, in large part due to abysmal play at attack, the Buckeyes roared back offensively with a fantastic 15-goal outburst against a Bucknell squad they had never beaten away from home. And it was quite the performance!
Tre Leclaire, Jackson Reid, and Jack Myers exploded this week, combining for 11 of the Buckeyes' 15 goals, and 16 of Ohio State's 23 points. That's a tremendous day's work. And it was needed, as the middies seemed to struggle today.
The offense was noticeably focused on attacking with Jack Myers from X, which makes sense given his performance today (4g, 4a). Myers would work to either beat his man up the hash to score, or draw the quick double to get a decent pass off.
Offball, there's still not as much movement as you would want to see, as everyone on both offense and defense just stared at the dodge the majority of the time. Against B1G teams, that won't be very successful, as we all saw last year.
In transition, the Buckeyes did pretty well, despite 3 poor clears in the 2nd half against the Bucknell ride.
Tre Leclaire had a couple nice goals, and Jack Myers had a golden opportunity saved from point-blank range. All in all, aside from some worrisome middie play, it was a very positive offensive performance this week against an undefeated Bucknell.
Defensively, the Buckeyes played better than the score indicated. 3 of Bucknell's second-half goals were just lucky shots that happened to go in. Will Yorke literally just reached around his defender (Joey Salisbury, I think), and scored a lefty shovel shot that had no business going in.
The alley dodges that Bucknell utilized often in their 1st three games went absolutely nowhere. This defense is nasty, and it will cause people a lot of problems in B1G play.
The Bison struggled shooting, only converting 29.7% of their shots on the day. If the alley dodging had been more successful, that number would be much lower.
As it is, the Buckeyes were absolutely devouring dodgers down the alley, and managed to get their sticks on more than a few passes. As I said, this unit played better than the score, and it will be a problem for opponents moving forward.
In goal, despite my one comment, Josh Kirson had a pretty solid day. He had 13 saves in the game, and put up a save percentage of .542. Anything at .50 or more is a great job, and kudos to Kirson for at least continuing his hot start.
The real tests will begin next week, as the out of conference schedule steps up a few dozen notches with Cornell coming to town, then two more ranked opponents in Notre Dame and Denver after a game against Hofstra March 7. Ohio State will really need Kirson to step up from last year's long slid after game 5.
The biggest surprise of the day was at the faceoff X, as Justin Inacio made a surprise return from injury to start. Inacio was misidentified on the stream as TJ Hendricks, hilariously, even though Hendricks is 6'5" and wears 33. On the opening draw, Inacio set the tone by winning the faceoff clean and going down to score on his only shot of the day. Inacio ended up at 14-24, good for 58% on the day.
This is a marked improvement over Christian Feliziani, who struggled in limited time, going 1-5. It's nice having Inacio back prior to the meat of the slate, as he could get back in the swing of things before Cornell. All in all, the most pleasant of surprises.
Finally, the Buckeyes have struggled with penalties all year, but made special teams count today. Ohio State converted their only Man Up opportunity, while Bucknell failed to score a single goal on their 4 Man Up opportunities.
That's a tremendous job, and so much better than last year's abysmal showing. Thankfully things seem to finally be turning around for an area that has been the name of their existence for literal years.
This was a good win. Not great, but a building block towards a good season. Next week will be the real test. There's nothing to hide now. The Buckeyes will either sink or swim starting with the game against Cornell and one of the best players in the world in Jeff Teat. It's going to be a banger.
Great job to bounce back today, and go Bucks!