Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What about Bob? Nah, What about Christian Frey?

Many hockey people in Columbus, Ohio are always talking about the Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.  Bobrovsky has single handedly made the Blue Jackets a much better team.  In hockey your team is only as good as your goalie plays.  If your goalie plays bad your team is probably in for a long night.  Many would argue that Bob is the best goalie in town, but there is another goalie in town making waves and that is Ohio State's Christian Frey.

Christian Frey joined Ohio State last season about midway through from the USHL's Dubuque Fighting Saints.  There is no measurable word to describe what Frey means to the Ohio State hockey team.  He instantly made a hockey team last year that was at best 5th or 6th in the Big Ten, and put them in a place to challenge for the Big Ten Title.  Like Bob, his ability to go out and make saves keep his team in the game, and give them a chance to win when it seems that all hope could be lost.

Now, I could go on for the next several paragraphs about how great Frey is and give you a bunch of stats.  I could tell you tales of how he stunned Michigan State in a shootout last season at East Lansing.  We could talk more how he almost beat Minnesota outside on their football field but saved a better performance to get a W against the #1 Gophers in the Big Ten Tournament.  But no, we are not going to talk about all that we are going to talk about last Saturday against #11 Miami Redskins.

Now Miami came into this series after a disappointing season last year and with high hopes of redemption.  I commented on how well Providence played against Ohio State a week ago, and well let's just say Miami was better than Providence.  They have speed and they have depth to go with that speed.  They came in on Saturday night and dominated the Buckeyes.  Except there was one thing standing in their way and that was Christian Frey.

Christian Frey last Saturday in Oxford went for a career high 60 saves.  They talk about a goalie standing on his head when he plays well, Frey did so much more then stand on his head.  He received little help from the defense that had trouble all night clearing the zone.  He received as much as help from the offense scoring once on 21 shots.  So what was the final score? 6-1? 9-1? No, it was 2-1 Miami.  Great goalies keep you in the game.

Frey was the number one star of the game.  If you don't follow hockey that much and have no idea what this means, think of football, they announce their player of the game at the end; hockey announces 3, a third star (third best player), a second star (second best player) and the first star (best player).  Goals and assists factor into offensive players getting stars, and saves or goals allowed factor in for the goalie getting a star.  Frey was definitely the first star of that game with his 60 saves.

To put this into context, on average a goalie will make about 30 saves in a given night.  The number could be more or less depending about how much better or worse the team you are playing.  Also, style of play greatly contributes to number of shots on goal.  Some teams get more pucks on net because they have better shooters or players that are better at getting 2nd and 3rd opportunities around the net.  The direction of the game today is triggering more offense and more shots so goalies have to have more agility than ever.

So as you can see Frey saw about doubled the number of shots a goalie faces on average.  Frey has been a huge part of the recent success of Ohio State's hockey program.  His ability to keep the team in the game when it appears it is going to be a white wash is unbelievable.  Ohio State has the weekend off and then they head up to Canisius.  The Golden Griffins are 2-2 on the young season while Ohio State is 1-3.  The Buckeyes and Frey will be looking to get back to their winning ways. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friar Tucked!

The Ohio State Men's Hockey team stuns the #3 Providence Friars in OT 5-4 at Value City Arena, in their season opener.  With many questions about if the Ohio State offense could recover from losing players like Ryan Dzingel the short term answer seems to be a resounding yes.  The Buckeyes never led in the game until the game winner in OT.  Their grind it out approach and a never say die attitude seemed to tuck-er out the Friars.  This is just around big win for a program in Columbus that is on the rise.

The game started out as a very physical contest, both teams were definitely throwing their weight around.  The scoring started late in the first period with the Friars getting on the board first with a goal from Nick Saracino.  Saracino's goal was answered by the Bucks a short 20 seconds later by Anthony Greco, leveling the score at 1-1.  The Friars were not done, late in the first Brian Pinho giving the Friars the 2-1 lead going into the locker room.  Both Friars' goals were the result of Bucks turnovers in their own zone.

Early into the 2nd, 6:48 to be exact, Anthony Greco netted his second goal of the game to tie the score at 2.  Greco is a junior from Minnesota, it says a lot for your program if you can get some of those Minnesota kids out of that state.  The Friars would retake the lead when Trevor Mingoia scored on a 3 to 1 brake.  The Bucks' goalie Christian Frey just could not get his skate to the post and Mingoia put it home for the 3-2 lead.

Into the third, the Bucks' power play and Tanner Fritz came alive.  The Bucks and Fritz would get an early PP goal in the third.  About 5 minutes later, the Friars' Tom Parisi literally snuck the puck inside the post with Frey right there.  It was not one of the best plays by Frey but he fought well all night in net.  Just under four minutes later Fritz would come up big again on the Ohio State power play to tie the game.  Exactly, what you need in the third period, your captain getting two huge goals in a big game to keep your team close.

The Buckeyes would get a carry over power play from regulation into OT.  Anthony Greco, just 28 seconds into the sudden death OT scores the game winner for his hat trick.  This sent Value City arena into a frenzy, well except the Providence fans seated next to me.  I believe they came to Columbus thinking they were going to push the Buckeyes around, and well the Bucks on this night pushed back.  I think that is a great tribute to their coach Steve Rohlik, the players have bought into this grind it out system and its proving results.

It cannot be understated that Providence is a great team.  They have a nasty and aggressive fore check.  They love to throw their weight around like I said before.  They play the eastern style of hockey very well, which relies on scoring with a bit of nastiness.  Brian Pinho might be the best player that exemplifies this.  He was in the middle of scrums all night and he was able to net one of the Friars' goals.  A great player, I hope we get to see more of him in the professional ranks.
Friar Tuck ;)

The man for the Bucks matching Pinho's toughness on this night had to be Justin DaSilva.  DaSilva is the Buckeyes' biggest defensemen at 6-6, 222.  He was matched up against Pinho for much of the game.  There was a bunch of penalties called tonight and there could have been many more because of the style of play.  You have to hand to it to the officials for letting the players decide the game and not sending guys to the box to simply just bumping each other.  Kudos to the zebras on this night.

The Friars and the Buckeyes will be back at it again on Saturday night.  Its going to be the same bat time on the same bat channel, as the Friars look to level the series.  It was a great game, thanks to the Buckeyes 5 goals, the fans got free Big Macs at McDonalds.  My section actually won the Raisin' Cane power play giveaway, and got a free Canes' combo.  I have said this before and I will say it again, this team is the best kept secret on the Ohio State campus.  The Bucks are a good team and they will definitely be a pest in the Big Ten this year.