Gameday: Canisius hockey vs. Ohio State 10/31/14

Ohio State at Canisius, 7:35 p.m., HarborCenter

By Nick Veronica

Canisius Golden Griffins: 4-2, 3-1 Atlantic Hockey, 1-1 home. USCHO: not ranked. PairWise: 16. Streak: W2.

Ohio State Buckeyes: 1-3, 0-0 Big Ten, 0-1 road. USCHO: Also receiving votes. PairWise: 40. Streak: L3.

Welcome to the HarborCenter: After years of playing games at Buff State’s orange and black rink, tonight is the first game at the HarborCenter, the $170 million downtown facility across the street from the First Niagara Center. The 1,800-capacity main rink is the Griffs’ home ice. They have their logo in the neutral zone and a pretty snazzy personalized locker room. Take a look:

Why Ohio State for the HarborCenter opener? It’s Canisius coach Dave Smith’s alma mater.

About Ohio State: If you’re wondering how the Buckeyes are still receiving votes in the USCHO poll despite being 1-3, that’s mostly because of who they’ve played. Ohio State split with Providence to open the year and dropped both games of a home-and-home with Miami (Ohio), which is ranked 10th in the country. Being a Big Ten team helps with the voters, too. 

Tanner Fritz leads the team with six points (2g, 4a), Anthony Greco had four goals and Matthew Weis has four assists. Christian Frey (.935 save percentage) and Matthew Tomkins (.887) have each started two games in net.

The Buckeyes are led by second-year coach Steve Rohlik, who played at Wisconsin and was drafted by the Penguins in the eighth round of the 1986 draft.

Series history: Ohio State leads 2-0, winning twice last year in Columbus, 3-0 and 3-1.

Players to watch: Ohio State forward Sam Jardine and goalie Matthew Tomkins were both drafted by Chicago in 2011 (sixth and seventh rounds, respectively). Canisius senior Cody Freeman is tied for 14th nationally with seven points (3g, 4a) and was recently named the NCAA’s second star of the week. Goalie Keegan Asmundson has started five of the Griffs’ six games.

What Canisius needs to do: Stay out of the penalty box. Ohio State has scored five of its eight goals this season on the power play, with Greco and Fritz scoring two each. The Buckeyes power play is tied for third nationally at 33.3 percent (5/15), while Canisius’ penalty kill ranks 46th out of 59 teams at just 73.9 percent (17/23). Stephen Farrell, Logan Roe and Matthew Backhouse has taken three penalties each.

Wild card: Sam Jardine had his arm cut by a skate three years ago and nearly lost mobility of his left hand.

How to follow the game: Go to it / Watch online / Listen online / Follow my live blog, which I’ll have up around 6:30.