A few unsung heroes rallied around for the Buckeyes on Saturday night, which earned Ohio State men’s hockey a non-conference series with the Mercyhurst Lakers.
The Ohio State No.17 (8-4-0, 4-2-0 Big Ten) beat Mercyhurst (4-6-4, 3-3-4 AHA) 3-2 on Saturday night with seven different Buckeyes totaling one point in the triumph.
As usual, the Buckeyes used a combination of different players to get the job done, something head coach Steve Rohlik loves about his squad.
âI think that’s the recipe for our success. It’s been all year, âRohlik said. âYou will see it as we continue to move forward. As a coach you don’t have to rely on one or two guys, someone else is stepping up every night.
Mercyhurst only managed to muster three shooting attempts in the opening frame. The Ohio State defenseman did well to keep the puck in the attacking zone for the majority of the first 20 minutes.
Junior defenseman James Marooney scored the first goal of his collegiate goal after 4:43 in the second period. The Chaska, Minnesota native skated on goal alongside junior forward Dalton Messina and bounced into an empty net.
Messina, who only made his second appearance of the season tonight, recorded the first point of his college career on the play. Second-year forward Joe Dunlap had the second assist on goal, the third point he has scored in his last five games.
Rohlik said he enjoyed seeing Marooney and Messina, two guys who don’t set the world on fire with their score, gain some recognition in tonight’s win.
âIt’s nice to see them having an evening like this,â Rohlik said. âPeople don’t always see their names in the newspapers and stat sheets, but I see them every day and how hard they work, how they contribute to our team every day and make us better. “
Halfway through second frame, Mercyhurst found an equalizer. Ohio State got caught in a line change during the penalty and second-year forward Mickey Burns capitalized. The goal was Burns’ second in as many nights for the Lakers.
Rohlik said he was disappointed with the defensive breakdown that allowed the Lakers to score.
âYou don’t want to give up on the easy ones,â Rohlik said. “You have to work so hard to kill a penalty, you don’t want to give up an easy one.”
With 1:38 to go in the second period, first-year forward Georgii Merkulov put the Buckeyes back on track. Junior forward Kamil Sadlocha rushed for the puck before passing through the goal for Merkulov, who calmly took the puck around second-year goaltender Kyle McClellan and into the back of the net.
Merkulov’s tally was his third of the season and gave him nine points for the year. With Sadlocha, first-year forward Cam Thiesing collected an assist on goal, the fifth of his rookie season.
After 40 minutes, Ohio State took a 2-1 lead. The Buckeyes had recorded 27 shots against 15 for the Lakers.
Mercyhurst tied the score at two with 10:38 to go. A fairly optimistic blue-line shot by second-year forward Austin Heidemann went unnoticed by first-year goaltender Jakub DobeÅ¡, and into the back of the net.
Exactly two minutes after the Lakers evened things, Sadlocha and Merkulov combined again to give the Buckeyes their third lead of the game. The Carpentersville, Illinois native recovered a Merkulov pass in net and landed a wrist shot past McLellan for his third goal of the campaign.
The goal gave Sadlocha, who was voted the team’s most improved player by his teammates in 2021, his second multi-point effort of the campaign. The first came in the 5-2 win over Penn State on November 5.
Sadlocha addressed all the applause to Merkulov, saying he was the one who really did the play.
âGeorgii made a great game and I just finished it,â said Sadlocha. “Credit to him.”
Sadlocha had the opportunity to add a second goal with 11 seconds left, but chose to feed the puck for forward Eric Cooley. Although his selfless play did not result in a goal, Sadlocha said he would do the same if the opportunity presented itself again.
âI wanted Cooley to score,â Sadlocha said. “I trust him. He just put it up, a little too high.
Graduated defenseman Will Riedell made a few critical defensive plays in the dying minutes, allowing the Buckeyes to secure the hard-fought victory.
DobeÅ¡ saved 21 of 23 shots the Lakers sent him in this one. The Czech international improved his collegiate record to 8-3-0.
Next up for Ohio State is a trip to South Bend, Indiana, for a two-game series against No.8 Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have won six straight games and will present a tough test for the Buckeyes.
Sadlocha reiterated that he and his teammates have to work during the week if they are to succeed against a team of Notre Dame’s caliber.
“I think we have to forget about this weekend and go back to work on Monday,” Sadlocha said. “He’s a whole new animal next weekend.”