OXFORD, Ohio — The Miami RedHawks finished the 2000-2001 season second in the final CCHA standings after defeating intrastate rival Ohio State, 3-0, Friday in each team’s regular-season finale.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys and the way they played all year long,” said Miami coach Enrico Blasi.
David Burleigh stopped all 27 shots he faced to earn his second shutout of the season. Anthony Donskov had the game-winning goal at 2:35 in the first, followed by Matt Medvecz’s goal just four minutes later.
That was, however, all the offense the RedHawks would be able to generate until Gregor Krajnc’s empty-netter at 19:05 in the third, as the Buckeyes went into hyperdrive from midway through the first until the end of the game, limiting Miami to two shots on goal in the second period and three in the third.
“It’s almost kind of scary to dominate like that … when I knew in my mind that Ohio State was going to get their legs and get going, and they did,” said Blasi. “The second period was an even period. We had some chances two-on-oh we didn’t capitalize on. Both teams had chances and both goalies made big saves.
“Then in the third period, for the first five minutes, I thought we were even, then they started to take it to us a little bit. David Burleigh was the difference in some of those plays.
“Give them credit; they never stopped coming after us.”
Donskov’s game-winner was assisted by Chris Knupp, who stole the puck from Ohio State defender Reed Whiting behind the Buckeye net. Knupp passed over to Donskov, who wrapped the puck around from behind the goal and poked it in the lower right corner for the 1-0 lead.
At 4:15, a RedHawk goal was waved off for having a man in the crease, but at 6:54, Medvecz put the official second goal in the net, his only goal of the season and the first tally by a Miami defender in 35 games.
It was at that point that Buckeye coach John Markell called a timeout to attempt to stop the bleeding.
“I told them [OSU players] to settle down,” he said. “We were running around like chickens with our heads cut off there for a while. We were trying to play a finesse game, and we’re not a very good hockey team when we try to play a finesse game. As soon as we started taking the body … we became a better hockey team.”
And that they did, outshooting Miami 4-3 in the second and 11-2 in the third. Four of those third-period shots came from within the just feet of the crease, and Burleigh turned away several chances during OSU’s only power play in the stanza with less than four minutes to go.
“Coming into this game, I thought we had a chance, and we did,” said Markell. “We’re not putting pucks in the net. I thought our game got better as it went on. Obviously, it didn’t start out the way we wanted it to. Fifteen shots we allowed in the first period and we allowed five shots on net after that. We generated enough shots to win that hockey game.
“I liked the way we finished the game. Our second period got better, and our third period got better than that. I talked to the guys and told them, ‘Remember how you ended that game. That’s where you’re going to have to play every period in the playoffs, with that intensity.’ That’s the thought I want to leave them with right now.
“We need a break on the goal scoring. Some of those saves [by Burleigh] were amazing. But Mike Betz didn’t play bad either. We made two mistakes in the first period and they both wind up in our net.”
Mike Betz stopped 18 of 20 shots he faced. Miami was 1-for-2 on the power play, and Ohio State was 0-for-4.
Miami finished the regular season 20-14-2 (17-10-1 CCHA) and will host the ninth seed in the first round of CCHA playoff action.
Ohio State finished the regular season 16-16-2 (13-13-2 CCHA) and will participate in the CCHA playoffs for the first time since the 1998-1999 season.
With Western Michigan’s loss to Notre Dame and Northern Michigan’s win over Lake Superior State, the Buckeyes are now tied with the Broncos and the Wildcats for that all-important fifth-place spot. Ohio State owns the tiebreakers over both Western and Northern, but the Broncos and Wildcats each have one game left, while the Buckeyes will sit and wait.