Improving Buckeyes Open Second Half Against Lakers

By Aubrey Nelson on December 28, 2018 at 3:45 pm
Collin Peters and the Buckeyes begin the second half of the season against Mercyhurst.
Ohio State Athletics
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The No. 5/7 men’s hockey Buckeyes return to the ice tonight. It is their first action since Dec. 1. (If you missed and/or need it, here’s a review of where the team stands after the first half.) Ohio State hosts Atlantic Hockey’s defending regular season champ, Mercyhurst, in its final non-conference series of 2018-19.

Game Info Friday Saturday
Opening Faceoff 7pm ET 8pm ET
Streaming Video BTN Plus ($) BTN Plus ($)

The Lakers lost several key pieces from last year’s title team and it shows. They are hanging on at .500 overall. Mercyhurst owns zero victories against an opponent with a winning record (0-4-1). The Lakers were outscored by those opponents, 27-10. That includes an inexplicable 6-6 tie against Notre Dame in the second week of the season. Mercyhurst lost to Bowling Green, Miami, and Robert Morris (twice) by a combined 21-4.

Team Stats Mercyhurst Ohio State
Records 8-2-2, 6-5-1 AHA 9-4-3, 4-2-2-2 B1G
National Polls N/A No. 5 / No. 7
Avg. Goals For / Against 2.61 / 3.22 2.56 / 2.00
Power Play / Penalty Kill 12.1% / 76.5% 16.2% / 79.7%
Points Leader Barach, Duszak (17) Jobst, Laczynski (14)
Leading Goal Scorer Derek Barach (8) Mason Jobst (10)
Top Goaltender Garrett Metcalf (2.13/.928) Tommy Nappier (1.43/.951)

The Buckeyes, on the other hand, powered into the break playing their best hockey of the season. In the last six games Ohio State saw a significant improvement in its offense. The Bucks scored an average of 3.17 goals per game over that stretch.

The Scarlet and Gray went 7-for-31 on their power play chances (22.6%). They even lowered their goals against average slightly to 1.83 per game. If these numbers can be maintained in the second half, then Ohio State is in for a deep postseason run.

The only area in which the team did not improve was in its baffling bad penalty kill. OSU boasts the nation’s sixth-best defense. The team is tied for second-most shutouts. Yet the Buckeyes successfully kill less than 80% of their penalties.

If the Bucks weren’t also one of the NCAA’s least frequently penalized teams, this would be a devastating statistic. The ailing PK hasn’t cost them too dearly yet. However, it could prove crippling in the war that’s brewing for the Big Ten title.

They should survive this week alright, though. Weird things can happen right out of the break. Top teams will get knocked off. But, provided they are reasonably crisp when they hit the ice tonight, the fallen won’t include Ohio State.

  • OSU will be sans-associate head coach Steve Miller this week as he is assisting behind the bench for Team USA at the World Juniors.
  • Don’t miss this piece by Brendon Kearney in which he explains why we can thank Michigan for making him a Buckeye.
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