COLUMBUS, Ohio — Derek Edwardson notched the game-winner and added two assists, and Pat Leahy scored two — including the shorthanded empty-net goal — as Miami beat Ohio State 4-1 in their first meeting of the year at Value City Arena.
“I thought David Burleigh was the difference tonight,” said Miami head coach Enrico Blasi. “Ohio State really took it to us in the second period. For us, offensively, I would say we were very opportunistic. We had some chances and we made the most of them.”
Burleigh made 33 saves on the night, including two timely saves on R.J.
Umberger. The first came with 5.4 seconds to go in the opening stanza, a great, sprawling, mid-air stop on an Umberger rocket from the right circle. Instead of a tie game, Burleigh preserved the lead going into the second.
Burleigh’s second show-stopper came with 1:20 left in the second, when Miami was ahead 2-1. Umberger and Paul Caponigri broke in on the RedHawk netminder, two-on-none. Burleigh stopped Umberger’s initial blast from the left and gave up so little that Caponigri couldn’t make a clean pickup of the rebound.
Again, instead of a tie score at the close of a period, Burleigh helped the RedHawks preserve a one-goal lead, and the momentum led to Miami’s third goal less than a minute later.
“That was huge,” said Blasi, “and then we scored with 30 seconds left. Whenever you get a goal early in the period or late in the period, it really changes the momentum of the game.
“But I give Ohio State full credit. [Ohio State coach] John [Markell] had his guys come out in the third period and they were doing the same things they did in the second period. Again, David Burleigh was there for us.”
The RedHawks dominated the first period, outshooting Ohio State 13-4 and taking a 1-0 lead after one. That first goal couldn’t have been much softer — or much luckier, depending on your perspective. Buckeye netminder Mike Betz let A.J. Kratofil’s rebound lay in the crease, assuming his defender would sweep it away. Instead, the puck sat there big as the moon for Chris Knupp to coax in under Betz’s outstretched right leg.
Dave Steckel tied it up for the Buckeyes at 4:35 in the second, picking up Mike McCormick’s quirky rebound that hit both upright posts before bouncing out to the rookie in the left circle. But with two unanswered goals in the second, including the insurance goal at 19:31, the game belonged to Miami.
At 15:29, Mike Kompon swept the puck from behind the net to Derek Edwardson in the right circle. Edwardson’s shot went in between Betz’s left leg and the pipe to make it 2-1.
A minute after Burleigh stopped Umberger and Caponigri at one end, Betz was caught completely off guard for Pat Leahy’s goal at 19:31, diving left across the crease and leaving an empty net for Leahy’s eighth goal of the season.
With the scoreless third period nearly spent, the Buckeye had a six-on-four opportunity after Miami’s Matt Medvecz went to the box for slashing and Ohio State had pulled Betz in favor of the extra skater. Again, Burleigh came up big as the Buckeyes created several chances in close. In the end, though, it was Leahy who capped the night with the empty-netter at 19:28, racing down the ice and beating J.F. Dufour, a tight, angled shot from the bottom of the right circle.
“I thought we had enough chances to stay in the game,” said Markell. “We needed some bounces. I thought Miami played a very good game, nothing that we didn’t expect — patient … great goaltending tonight.
“I thought they were physical. I thought they took care of whatever chance we gave them. In the first period, I thought our guys were just a step off a little bit … but I thought we took it right back to them. In the third I thought we had the better part of the play, but you’re playing from behind and they can play more patiently, which they did.”
Neither team capitalized on the power play in this very clean game. Miami was 0-for-3, while Ohio State went 0-for-4.
Miami improved to 16-11-2 (13-8-1 CCHA), while Ohio State is 14-11-2 (11-8-2 CCHA). The teams meet again Saturday night in Goggin Arena in Oxford, Ohio, and each coach said the same thing about the second match.
“We’re going to have to play a very good game tomorrow night in order to get some points out of this series,” said Markell.
“We need to be a lot better tomorrow night,” said Blasi. “I was really impressed with their team.”