It’s a whole new world in hockey in general and in particular at the college level as officials try crack down on blows above the shoulder in this concussion-weary state of the sport.
The players are trying to adjust to the increased scrutiny as the referees also attempt to grasp the greater emphasis on high hits.
Both parties have a long way to go based on the opening two games between Ohio State and Quinnipiac in Value City Arena.
For the second straight game a major penalty for contact to the head played a significant factor but this time the Bobcats were the beneficiaries for a 4-3 win and a split of the series.
With the help of two power-play goals in the first period, the Bobcats jumped to a 4-0 lead then held off a determined rally left the outcome in doubt until the final whistle.
“You almost throw the first 20 (minutes) out the window,” Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki said. “We never had an opportunity to play. The second and third was a good response.
“Our guys played well, played hard and played desperate. That’s a good sign, especially for a young team. They didn’t fold. That easily could have gone 8-0 with a young team. They showed a lot of resilience. I use the term relentless. I thought we were.”
Jeremy Langlois had a pair of goals for Quinnipiac and Connor Jones and Russell Goodman also scored.
For the Buckeyes, freshman Matt Johnson had his first career goal and senior Cory Schneider added another in the middle period to cut the deficit in half before freshman Ryan Dzingel made it 4-3 at 19:04 of the third period with his second of the season.
Just prior to his tally, the Buckeyes had a goal disallowed when it was ruled Danny Dries had redirected a Chris Crane shot with a high stick. After a review, the call stood.
“I’ve never been here when they’ve overturned a call so I was a little skeptical,” Ohio State junior defenseman Devin Krogh said.
The Buckeyes had several good tries in the closing seconds but were unable to get the equalizer because the first period was just too much to overcome.
“In the second and third I thought we played a lot better,” Krogh said. “We had a heart-to-heart in the first (intermission) and we responded pretty well but obviously it wasn’t enough to get the job done. Even in the second and third we took too many penalties to give ourselves a chance.”
The Buckeyes went to the penalty box early and often at an outstanding rate with the most damaging being a 5-minute contact to the head call on freshman Max McCormick at the 5:20 mark of the first and OSU already trailing 1-0.
“It’s a bang-bang play,” Osiecki said. “If he did make contact to the head it’s a point of emphasis. If he did, I agree with it.”
As was the case Friday when the Buckeyes got the winner in the third period when a contact to the head on Quinnipiac quickly turned into a 5-on-3 due to another penalty, the Bobcats found themselves with a two-man advantage and Langlois made it 2-0 at 7:37.
The call on McCormick was borderline because it appeared to be a shoulder-to-shoulder hit not worthy of 5 minutes or a game misconduct.
That was the complaint of Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold on Friday when discussing the first of two majors to his team for contact to the head.
“Last year that’s probably a two (minutes),” he said. “It is a two last year. That’s the nature of the beast.”
While the major penalty to McCormick might have been questionable there’s no doubt the Buckeyes lacked discipline.
Langlois scored on another power-play at 11:33 and shortly thereafter the Buckeyes were short-handed for the fifth time in the opening 12 minutes.
In all, Quinnipiac spent 7 minutes on the power in the first period and took a commanding 4-0 lead into the break when Connor Jones had a nifty redirect in the slot.
Senior goalie Cal Heeter was replaced after the third Quinnipiac goal by junior transfer Brady Hjelle, who made 25 saves.
Osiecki said the move was to motivate the team as well as not let Heeter be “hung out to dry” because the team wasn’t playing well in front of him.
The Buckeyes open Central Collegiate Hockey Association play Oct. 14 and 14 at Notre Dame.