Like a foot firmly planted on soft ice, the Ohio State offense finally broke through with a five-goal barrage in the first period on Saturday thanks to even softer goaltending by Lake Superior State's pair of Kevins.
Neither Kevin Murdock nor Kevin Kapalka were able to stop the easiest of shots in the first 14 minutes as the goal-challenged Buckeyes routed the Lakers 6-1 to sweep the two-game Central Collegiate Hockey Association series in Value City Arena.
Alex Szczechura scored twice, junior Alex Lippincott once short-handed and freshmen Riley Simpson and Anthony Greco also got on the board by the 14:11 mark with the only blemish in the wild period being a weak goal allowed by OSU senior Brady Hjelle, who entered the game third nationally with a 1.63 goals against average.
OSU got a sixth goal in the third period when the Lakers went with an extra attacker with 12 minutes left and Ryan Dzingel scored into an empty net.
The Buckeyes (10-11-5, 9-6-3-1) were scoring only two goals a game but were on the attack from the start as Tanner Fritz ripped a shot off the post just 25 seconds into the contest to the delight of 3,915 fans.
Undeterred, Szczechura opened the scoring at 43 seconds with a wicked one-timer from the low shot after taking pass out of the right corner by Max McCormick. It was the only deserved goal of the period.
"Something we really emphasized is jumping on teams early," Szczechura said. "We've struggled with that in the past but this weekend we did a pretty good job."
Simpson made it 2-0 at 2:26 with a off-wing shot from the right circle that stayed on the ice and eluded the swiping motion of Murdock as he tried to glove the puck.
It was the second goal of the weekend for Simpson, who was a late addition to the lineup Friday because of an illness to Travis Statchuk and went on to score on a deflection.
"I got a lucky goal (Friday) and an even luckier one tonight," Simpson said.
By that point Lake Superior coach Jim Roque had to be considering pulling Murdock just as he did Friday when Kapalka muffed the Buckeyes' first goal only six minutes into a 3-2 OSU win.
Murdock made the decision easier when Szczechura's shot trickled past him at 4:02 after he made only three saves in the game.
Kapalka wasn't much better in yielding the next two goals. Fritz skated down the left side and Kapalka left his juicy rebound in front for Lippincott t 5:59. Greco got the fifth when his initial shot was blocked but he was able to put a backhander by Kapalka.
"My two guys have played great all year. They had a bad night. That's all I can say. I know they'll bounce back," Roque said. "Lot of credit to Ohio State. They played really well. They were on their toes. They had great energy all weekend."
The Lakers (13-14-1, 8-11-1-1) ended the onslaught when Andrew Dommett's went under arm of Hjelle and fluttered into the net at 17:51.
OSU's first period goals were one more than their previous best game output which it reached on three occasions this season, including a 4-2 win at Lake Superior State on Nov. 23.
"We hadn't been the highest scoring team but this weekend the goals were coming all night," Szczechura said. "It's definitely a confidence booster for us."
OSU coach Mark Osiecki was pleased by the two games, especially after playing well at Northern Michigan the previous weekend but losing both games.
"No doubt we had some things go our way but our players deserved it," he said. "Last weekend we probably played better and came away empty-handed. That was very gratifying for us."
The Buckeyes' home stand continues Feb. 1 and 2 vs. Notre Dame.