It’s hard to make the jump from junior hockey to meeting the pace of the college game. Missing nearly half the season because of a high ankle sprain made the task even tougher for Ohio State freshman forward Anthony Greco.
He’s back now and with his return, and that of rookie defenseman Sam Jardine from his extended stay on the injury list, the Buckeyes are beginning to play the up-tempo transitional game coach Mark Osiecki had envisioned at the beginning of the season.
And as last weekend showed, OSU can put together a productive offense without suffering at the other end. The Buckeyes, averaging two goals per game, had nine goals in 3-2 and 6-1 wins against Lake Superior State.
Osiecki said the Buckeyes allowed only 17 scoring chances for the two games to mimic the clamp down in the previous series at Northern Michigan.
“We’ve done a good job defensively,” he said. “We’ve put ourselves in a good spot offensively. It’s been nice because we’ve had 18, 17, 34 and 32 scoring chances (the past four games). Generally if you’re getting 15 or more you’re doing OK. It was fun to watch that on video.”
Greco, who was born in Queens, N.Y., but moved to Minnesota at age 12, is part of the resurgence by getting a goal and two assists vs. Lake Superior after returning for the Northern series as he continues to get up to speed with his teammates.
“The first weekend was really tough. It’s slowly coming back,” he said. “Being a freshman, it’s a little tough getting used to it that quick but it’s been going pretty well so far.
“The first game (at Northern Michigan) went pretty well then it was knock off the rust the next couple of games. I’m not back where I want it to be but you always want more.”
Osiecki said Greco is probably playing t “80, 85 percent.”
Greco played the first seven games – scoring at Minnesota Duluth in his first game – before being injured Nov. 9 against Alaska. Jardine was injured the next night and missed 12 games before returning Jan. 11 at Ferris State.
It wasn’t easy for either to sit so many games.
“We kind of vented to each other a lot,” he said. “It was unfortunate that he was out but it was also nice at the same time to have someone with me.”
Greco took out his frustrations when he got back on the ice. For the season he has7 points (three goals, four assists) in 11 games.
“I’m a offensive forward,” he said. “It’s important for me to produce but not overlook playing strong defensively and getting back on the rush.”
The Buckeyes (10-11-5, 9-6-3-1 CCHA) are an upbeat bunch but face a stiff challenge when they host No. 9 Notre Dame (16-10-0, 12-6-0-0) at 7:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
“Guys are feeling good, confident,” junior defenseman Curtis Gedig said. “I feel like the team chemistry is up.”
Osiecki said the Buckeyes need to be in top form.
“They’re high-end, blue chip players,” he said of Notre Dame. “You look up and down their roster and how many of those guys have been NHL draft picks. A lot of guys are going to play in the NHL.”