COLUMBUS, Ohio — After mustering just six shots on goal in the first period, the Miami RedHawks scored two unassisted goals in the second period, and went on to beat the Ohio State Buckeyes 3-1 in Value City Arena.
Nick Jardine had two goals on the night, including the unassisted empty-netter at 19:44 to cement the Miami victory. David Burleigh made 33 saves as the Buckeyes outshot the RedHawks 34-24.
“I don’t know what it is about this building,” said Miami head coach Enrico Blasi, “but David Burleigh was the difference again tonight.” Burleigh was key in Miami’s 4-1 win in the Schott on Feb. 9.
“He seems to play well here. I thought Ohio State had some great chances early again,” said Blasi, “but once again we got some opportunistic goals…and we were able to hang on for the win.”
After a scoreless first period during which the Buckeyes outshot the RedHawks 12-6, Jardine gave Miami the 1-0 lead at 3:39 in the second, stealing the puck in the Miami end and taking the play — at a leisurely pace — coast to coast. Jardine criss-crossed the neutral zone, moving from left to right, and shot from the right circle at a steep angle, taking Buckeye goaltender Mike Betz off guard and beating the rookie five-hole. The goal was Miami’s eighth shot on goal.
Jason Deskins made it 2-0 at 10:01 in the second, another unassisted, full-court effort, just after the RedHawks stymied a Buckeye breakaway at the other end.. Deskins picked up the loose puck and skated in on the Miami three-on-two, firing through a screen from the left circle and beating Betz on the short side for the two-goal lead.
Miguel Lafleche spoiled Burleigh’s shutout by lifting Pete Broccoli’s rebound up and over Burleigh’s glove at 16:05 in the third, but Jardine added his second unassisted goal at 19:34, an empty-netter shot the length of the ice from just inside the Buckeye blueline.
In the last minute with Betz pulled in favor of the extra OSU skater, Miami dealt with the added pressure, said Blasi, by maintaining discipline. “They did a really nice job of not giving them many shots in tight. Pat Leahy comes to mind. He did a really nice job of fighting off Dufour there at the end. All of our guys out there…did a nice job and Burleigh was there.
“You can tell when Burleigh’s on. He seems to be in a zone.”
Ohio State head coach John Markell agreed that Burleigh was one big factor in this tight contest. “I think we created enough opportunities to score some goals. You saw the kind of goal we had to score to get one going. It would have been nice to get it a little bit earlier. I thought we came out with the intensity we needed, and it built as the game went on.
“Their second goal was somewhat suspect on the pick I thought, but Burleigh was the difference. They did the little things right to secure a road win. I thought at points we were standing around in the second period.”
With the win, the RedHawks secure the Ohio Cup, which is awarded annually by the Buckeye Sports Bulletin to the Ohio CCHA team with the best record against its other instate opponents. Blasi said that winning the cup is “in all honest…a big deal.”
“If you go back and look at the years that teams have won it, I’d almost bet you … one of the teams has gone to the national tournament or has gone to the Joe from winning the Ohio Cup.”
Miami is now 19-14-2 (16-10-1 CCHA) and tied with Nebraska-Omaha for third place in the CCHA. The RedHawks own that tie-breaker, winning 16 league contests to UNO’s 15.
Ohio State is now 16-15-2 (13-12-2 CCHA) and still tied with Western Michigan for fifth place in the CCHA, but the Broncos have a game in hand on the Buckeyes. Should Western and OSU remain tied at the end of the season, Ohio State would have the tie-breaker on league wins.
The Buckeyes and RedHawks face off again Friday, Mar. 2, at 7:35 p.m. in Goggin Arena, the final regular-season game for each team.