In the midst of a epic goal-scoring drought and the Buckeyes on the power play during the third period, Ferris State goaltender Pat Nagel was down and out of his net. Reaching the puck to the right of the net, Fritsche spun and fired from about 15 feet. The puck hit the right post, then the left, and bounced back away from the net.
Welcome to the world of Buckeye hockey, circa 2007. Ohio State and the visiting Bulldogs played an even game Friday night in front of 2,613 fans, but Ferris State finished its chances while the home side did not. The result was a 4-0 win for the Bulldogs (3-3-1, 2-1-0 CCHA).
Ohio State is now 0-2 at home, 0-3 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association and 0-5 in its last five games. In those five games, OSU has scored four goals.
"There's a lot of talent in our senior class, and right now it's not showing through, myself included," OSU captain Matt McIlvane said. "We need to step up and get the puck in the back of the net."
The Buckeyes, with nine freshmen in its 20-player lineup, were hoping to build on a weekend at college hockey power Minnesota in which they played well but could not get enough goals in back-to-back 3-1 and 2-1 losses. Instead, OSU took the only step backwards it could on the scoreboard.
And for once, the Buckeyes were not picked up by goaltender Joseph Palmer. The sophomore had been carrying the young squad through six games but did not do so on this night.
The first goal he allowed came with 3:21 gone in the second period and won't be making a highlight reel anytime soon. From 70 feet out and along the right boards, Justin Lewandowski shot a puck that skipped past Palmer to the far side.
As it turned out, the 1-0 deficit would be too much for OSU to overcome through the next 37 minutes of play.
"It's the second time that we've had goals scored against us at home that have deflated us, and that can't happen anymore," head coach John Markell said. "We have to fight through that, and that's where I expect my seniors and my upperclassmen to grasp that situation and move forward with it and show leadership."
Ferris State added to the lead with 8:40 gone in the second when Zach Redmond beat Palmer from the right circle on a 4-on-4 rush.
Palmer was breached again 4:20 into the third when Adam Miller's soft shot from a sharp angle along the left boards snuck through his legs. Palmer was replaced by Nick Filion at that point after having stopped 26 of 29 shots.
"I'm sure Joe wants the first and third goals back," Markell said. "He's been playing very, very well and I'm going to give him credit. We have to score some goals for him, too."
Ferris State's J.T. Dahlinger completed the scoring at 15:21 of the third. The Bulldogs' four goals came from four different lines.
"The first goal of the game was – that's why the position is so tough to play, there's no hiding it – that was a boost for us," Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels said. "I thought we were kind of back on our heels at that point, too, so for us to get that goal was a boost for us and I think deflating for them."
Nagel made 27 saves to earn the shutout, the second in a row posted by Ferris State. The Bulldogs have now won five games in a row against Ohio State.
The teams will hit the ice to complete the two-game series again Sunday at 2 p.m. at Value City Arena.