COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State “did enough to win,” said their head coach, John Markell, as the Buckeyes downed Wayne State, 3-2, completing their first two-game sweep of the season.
“I compliment Mike Betz for being there,” Markell said. “[WSU] created a lot of shots on the power play.”
Betz made 31 saves as the Warriors outshot the Buckeyes (5-2-1, 3-2-1 CCHA), 33-18, not quite a reversal of last night’s 45-26 shot total in favor of Ohio State, but certainly a different effort from the Wayne State team.
“I’m glad they showed up, because last night’s team was kind of embarrassing,” said WSU head coach Bill Wilkinson.
“I think David [Guerrera] played better in goal for us tonight,” added Wilkinson. “When he plays solid, that gives us a chance to be successful, and at least be competitive. I thought last night he wasn’t as sharp as he needed to be.”
After giving up seven goals on 33 shots in Wayne State’s 9-0 loss to Ohio State Friday night, Guerrera stopped 15 of 18 shots on goal in tonight’s effort.
Paul Caponigri had two power-play tip-ins, and Ryan Smith notched his first goal of the season for the Buckeyes in the win. Nathan Rosychuk became the first player in Wayne State program history to score against Ohio State, earning his first goal of the season. Keith Stanich also tallied for the Warriors.
The Buckeyes were lucky to escape the first period with a 1-1 tie, as Wayne State outhustled and outshot Ohio State, 10-4. In the first, OSU didn’t fire a shot on goal until the 8:30 mark, and the Buckeyes’ last shot on goal of the period became their first goal of the game.
After taking the puck from Lee Spector in the OSU end, Ryan Smith skated coast-to-coast, cruising in through the right circle and backhanding his shot past Guerrera at 13:48 to give Ohio State the 1-0 lead.
The Warriors tied it up with just three seconds remaining in the opening period, when Rosychuk scored from Chris Vail. Vail dug the puck out of the right corner, then skated behind the net where he passed to Rosychuk, who tucked it in under Mike Betz at the right post to make it a 1-1 game after one.
It was the Buckeye power play that made the difference in the second and third periods, as OSU capitalized on their only two man-advantage situations of the game.
At 17:41 in the second. Mike McCormick passed to the right point, from where R.J. Umberger let go a raging slap shot. Caponigri was in the right placed at the right time for that goal.
“Oh, that was total skill,” said the sophomore. “I’m just glad it went in off the side of my leg and not the back.”
Caponigri tipped in his second power-play goal of the night at 7:39 in the third, this time intentionally redirecting McCormick’s wicked blast from the right circle, giving Ohio State a 3-1 lead.
Although the Warriors pressured throughout the third, outshooting OSU 13-3 in the stanza, they registered just one more goal at 19:53, with Guerrera pulled in favor of the extra skater.
Wilkinson said that the Warriors’ physical play made this anyone’s game. “Last night we had 21 hits. In the first period [tonight] we had 24. That was the total difference.
“Tonight we turned the puck over at times [forced turnovers] and had opportunities. I’m sure the scoring chances were pretty balanced.”
The loss not withstanding, Wilkinson was happy with his team’s performance. “I was concerned in the warm-up; I thought it was lackluster warm-up. We challenged them in the locker room to come out and perform to their capabilities, and I thought that they really stepped up and showed the character that we need in our team to play night in and night out, as hard as we have to.”
Markell said that Wayne State “should be proud with the way they bounced back from a nine-nothing beating.”
Markell was a little less enthused about the Buckeye effort, but was well short of negative about OSU’s near-miss.
“For the young guys in the [locker] room, it was the first sweep in a while,” he said. “It was human nature for us to come out the way we did. [Last night's] killer instinct is the kind [want to] demonstrate each and every night — but it’s something we have to address. We think we know what the problem is, but that remains to be seen.
“We’re going to get a severe test from a very good hockey club that seems to be able to put it together back-to-back.”
Markell was referring to Northern Michigan (6-1-1, 6-1-1), OSU’s next opponent, Nov. 16-17 in Columbus. The Wildcats swept the Lakers, 5-0 and 9-1, Friday and Saturday nights.
Mike Betz echoed his coach’s concern about the Saturday night letdown. “I don’t think everybody was whole-heartedly happy with the way we played, and that’s a good thing. We understand that we didn’t play at our best and still got the sweep. We know we have a tough, tough job ahead of us next week, one we really have to prepare for.”
The Buckeyes were 2-for-2 on the power play, while the Warriors were 1-for-5.
Next up for Wayne State is a Nov. 16-17 home-and-home series with Bowling Green (2-6-2, 2-5-1 CCHA), with Friday night’s game in Detroit.