Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Power of the Big Ten Network

Tanner Fritz of the Ohio State Buckeye Hockey Team
In a busy holiday weekend on the road for the Ohio State Men's hockey team, the Buckeyes gained a split with Lake Superior State in CCHA hockey action.  Capping a weekend that left the Bucks in a 3 way tie for second in the CCHA with Notre Dame and Ferris State, Senior Goal Tender Brady Hjelle was named Goaltender of the week.  At 15 points, one point behind first place Miami, the Buckeyes are in a good position as the season advances.

On Friday the Buckeyes won 4-1 up in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.  Maintaining steady scoring pressure, the Bucks scored one in each of the first two periods, and finished off the third period by scoring two goals.  Opening the scoring was 5-10, 195 lb Sophomore Matt Johnson (12 GP, 4 G, 1
A, 5 Pts, +6), with assists to 5-10, 175 lb Sophomore Chad Niddery (5 GP, 0-1-1, +1) and 6-3, 200 lb Junior defenseman Curtis Gedig (10 GP, 0-2-2, +5).    The second period goal was scored by Ryan Dzingel, the 6-0 185 lb Sophomore who has been mentioned in this space more than once.  Dzingel (12 GP, 5-5-10, -2), currently tied for third in scoring in CCHA play was assisted by 5-10, 166 lb Freshman Tyler Lundey and 5-9, 175 lb Junior Alex Szczechura (9 GP, 1-2-3, -1).

The first third period goal was scored by 5-11, 200 lb Sophomore Tanner Fritz, pictured above.  Fritz (12 GP, 2-9-11, +3), one those currently tied at third in CCHA scoring, was assisted by 6-3, 200 lb Sophomore Darik Angeli (6 GP, 1-1-2, +0).    Late in the third period Lake Superior State scored a goal, only to be answered again by the Buckeyes when 6-1, 193 lb Junior Chris Crane (12 GP, 3-2-5, +1) scored an empty net goal, assisted by Tanner Fritz.  Goaltender Brady Hjelle stopped 30 of 31 shots he faced.

What does all this have to do with the Big Ten Network you ask?  Well, I'll get to that, but I also want to take some time getting the links and descriptions of the Buckeye Hockey players down so we could start to get to know them.

In the rematch on Saturday, Lake Superior State came out firing, scoring two first period goals.  Trailing 2-0 going into the second period, the Buckeyes struck quickly, with Darik Angeli scoring 55 seconds into the period and the assist going to Tanner Fritz.  The second period ended with Lake Superior State still leading 2-1.  Unfortunately, three minutes into the third period Lake Superior padded its lead by scoring its third goal.  Although the Buckeyes scored a late power play goal, with Ryan Dzingel scoring, with assists to 6-1 195 lb Senior Devon Krogh (7 GP, 0-2-2, -5) and Tanner Fritz, Lake Superior State prevailed 3-2.  Freshman Goaltender Colin Olson was pulled after 10:15 in the first period after giving up 2 goals on 8 shots.  He was relieved by Brady Hjelle, who stopped 17 of 18 shots the rest of the way to run his record to 3-2-2, with 2 shutouts, a GAA 1.45 and a save percentage of .950.  Pretty solid numbers.

Next up for the Buckeyes is a road trip to East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans.  More importantly for the hockey starved masses, the Friday night game will be televised on the Big Ten Network starting at 8:00 Eastern Time.  Unfortunately, the Saturday game gives way to basketball coverage.  Nonetheless it is exciting to be able to see hockey on the tube flat panel, and I will enjoy watching Friday night's game.

Which is my point.  This is Ohio State's last year in the CCHA.  Next year, they play in the new Big Ten hockey league, with Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Penn State.  Hopefully some of the old in-state games remain on the schedule, such as Miami.  I noticed after the weekend that the hard copy of the Columbus Dispatch ran a hockey wrap up, and the writer observed that the non-Big Ten teams going into the new conference (??the NCHA??) had an overall winning record, and the teams going into the Big Ten had an overall losing record.  And that's okay.  Some of the other teams have long and storied traditional hockey programs.  But over the long term, the Big Ten has a television network.  And the notion that your college hockey game is going to be televised will be an important long term recruiting tool that few other NCAA hockey programs can offer.  I think because of this recruiting advantage we will see the overall quality of the hockey players in the Big Ten improve over time, and locally we will be beneficiaries of this improvement.

So tune in on Friday, and let the Big Ten network know there are ratings to be gained by televising hockey.


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