From eventual NHL players like R.J. Umberger, Ryan Kesler, Zac Dalpe, Rod Pelley and Dave Steckel to high-volume college scorers like Mathieu Beaudoin, Sergio Somma and Tommy Goebel, Buckeye fans have been treated to some high-powered forwards over the years.
But no one has done what Ryan Dzingel is doing right now.
It might be time to start talking about the Ohio State junior as a potential All-America candidate after he scored his second career hat trick – not to mention the first three-goal effort ever in Big Ten play – and had an assist Friday night in Ohio State's initial Big Ten win, a 5-3 triumph against Michigan State.
The explosion gave Dzingel an absurd total of 12 goals and eight assists in the past 10 games and further boosted credentials that included the seventh-best points per game average in the nation entering the game.
"I just think my linemates have a lot to do with it, and shooting the puck finally," said Dzingel, who has a scorching 12 points in the last four games. "Last year and early in the season I didn't shoot it that much. I'm just finding a way to get it on net and hoping it'll go in."
He did just that on the game-winning goal, ripping a shot top shelf over MSU goaltender Jake Hildebrand on the rush just 90 seconds into the third period to complete a two-goal outburst for OSU (11-6-0, 1-2-0-0) that turned a one-goal deficit at the second intermission into a Buckeye advantage.
Dzingel's power-play slap shot that skidded by Hildebrand with 3:35 left set the final margin and gave him the first OSU hat trick since Alex Szczechura had one Feb. 16, 2013, vs. Western Michigan.
"The one thing that Ryan has brought to the table this year is he's more responsible," head coach Steve Rohlik said. "We can all see the magic that he creates, but he's bought into the full game and you're seeing the results. We laughed just now because I've been begging him to shoot for three years, and if he shoots, you're going to see some of those results."
Dzingel's showing helped Ohio State's offense – the nation's third-best scoring unit entering the game at 3.94 goals per game, an average that only went up vs. the Green and White – overcome a sloppy game in the defensive realm.
Making his first appearance in more than two months thanks to an ankle injury, freshman goaltender Matt Tomkins was rusty – especially with rebound control d – but made 33 saves, while OSU allowed three goals on 15 shots in a second period that was generally one-way traffic toward Tomkins cage.
Rohlik acknowledged the Buckeyes had to clean things up in their own end after what was the team's third straight victory, but on this night, he was just happy to begin play in 2014 with an historic conference victory.
"That's first and foremost, to go out there and get points," the first-year head coach said. "We're in league play now. Now we're going to realize what this league is really about day in and day out."
Nick Oddo added the game-tying goal for Ohio State just 17 seconds into the third period and had a three-point night, while Szczechura had a two-point game highlighted by a 5-on-3, first-period goal 4:45 into the contest that opened the scoring.
Matt Berry tallied twice for the Spartans in what was a three-goal second period and added the primary assist on a tally with just 37.0 seconds left in the frame by Joe Cox that sent the Spartans to the locker room holding a 3-2 lead.
But Oddo erased that quickly, crashing the net and putting the rebound of a shot by Nick Schilkey by Hildebrand, short-side to the stick.
"Big-time goal, not only to tie the game but I thought for the momentum on the bench, the building," Rohlik said. "We just felt it. To go out there and answer the bell like that after they scored late, that's what it takes."
From there, Dzingel quickly gave Ohio State the lead, then Tomkins picked a good time to make his biggest saves of the night, stoning Berry on two point-blank efforts on one shift about seven minutes into the third.
"I'm probably not going to sleep very well tonight after those two (missed chances)," Berry said.
Szczechura's cross-crease tap-in on a pass from Max McCormick gave the Buckeyes a 1-0 lead less than five minutes into the game, but Berry tallied twice in near carbon-copy fashion – coming off the left-wing wall and scoring from a sharp angle – in the second period to give MSU a 2-1 lead.
Dzingel answered with 3:06 left in the frame when he finished a beautiful cross-ice feed from Oddo on an expertly designed breakout, but Cox buried a pass from Berry to send MSU to the dressing room with the lead.
But Ohio State scored the only three goals of the third, leaving Michigan State (6-10-2, 0-2-1-1) without a Big Ten win.
"It was a disappointing game from my perspective," MSU head coach Tom Anastos said. "Parts were good. They're a good team, have good skill. (Dzingel) is an awfully good player. We were obviously aware of that and didn't do a very good job on him tonight. We have to be better defensively. We can't expect to give up five goals and win too many games. I give their team credit, but there were parts of our game I just didn't like."
Notes: OSU is now 10-3 this season in Value City Arena. … The Buckeyes have scored at least three goals in 15 of 17 games on the year, including 10 in a row. … Oddo was plus-3 in the game, moving him to plus-16 on the season, good for eighth in the nation. … The Buckeyes were 2 for 3 on the power play while MSU was 1 for 5. … Dzingel ripped a slap shot at Hildebrand on a delayed penalty call with 48 seconds to play, resulting in a scrum that earned Dzingel a 10-minute misconduct and OSU's Chad Niddery a five-minute major. … Saturday's finale will be the team's Pride Night featuring the You Can Play Project and Gay Hockey Ohio.