OXFORD, Ohio — Anyone in Goggin Arena who attended Friday’s 1-0 Miami overtime win in Columbus may have experienced the sensation that this was all very, very familiar.
At the end of regulation in Saturday’s tight-checking, back-and-forth OSU-Miami game, the score was all tied up. At the beginning of overtime, there were four skaters on each side. Granted, the game-winner didn’t come with 0.1 seconds left on the clock, but a fluky goal that never touched the scorer’s stick ended the game in OT.
The difference, of course, was a 24-hour reversal of fortune, as JB Bittner was credited with the goal that gave No. 14 Ohio State a 4-3 win over Miami in Oxford. The Buckeyes played a gritty game with a shortened bench after two players were injured during their first shifts of the game, and once again the goaltending duel between Miami’s David Burleigh and OSU’s Mike Betz was provided plenty of oohs and aahs.
“It showed a lot of character to come back, working hard, after last night’s game,” said OSU head coach John Markell. “We got down by one goal and fought back … it was a gutsy performance. I think Mike Betz looked solid and the defense looked good.”
Mike Glumac — who notched the game-winner with less than a second to go in overtime in Value City Arena Friday night — scored two more for the RedHawks. Betz made 35 saves in his ninth win of the season, and Burleigh stopped 32 shots in the loss.
“I thought again tonight that it was a great college game, that it could have gone either way,” said Enrico Blasi, Miami head coach. “We had some great chances, they hit some posts. They got the bounce tonight, and we didn’t. That’s the way it goes.”
Glumac gave Miami a 1-0 lead on the power play at 13:13 into the game. Jason Deskins’ initial shot hit the right post and popped out. With Betz unable to cover and a mess of players for both teams in or near the crease, Glumac picked up the puck — it’s difficult to call it a rebound, exactly — and scored.
Ohio State answered just over a minute later when Chris Olsgard scored on a five-on-three Buckeye advantage, and Scott May gave OSU a 2-1 lead at 18:29 in the first, when he banked the puck in off of Burleigh’s backside, shooting from behind the goal line to the left of the net.
Nick Jardine tied it up at 3:30 in the second with significant help from a phantom whistle. After making an initial save on Deskins, Betz dropped to the ice, on his back, and attempted to cover the puck. The Buckeye players, the bench, and several people in the press box thought they heard a whistle, at which point the OSU players simply stopped moving.
The play was, however, far from dead; Jardine picked up the idle puck right in front of the crease and popped it in over Betz, who was still lying motionless on the ice.
“There was a discrepancy over whether there was a whistle or not,” said Jardine. “I was taking the puck wide and I threw it to Desi [Jason Deskins] in the middle, and he just took a shot. Stewy [Danny Stewart] popped it loose and everybody stopped. I put it in.”
“That second goal, we heard a whistle,” said Markell. “Everyone on the bench heard a whistle. It was a funny weekend as far as goal scoring.”
“I heard something, but I didn’t think it was a whistle,” said Blasi. “Again, you’ve got to play until the whistle. We had a puck that was right on the goal line shortly thereafter that didn’t go in. A crazy weekend of hockey.”
The RedHawks thought they’d scored again at 13:10, when a Deskins shot danced along the goal line but did not go in. “Crazy” sums up the Buckeye go-ahead goal in the third, a goal which came from the least likely of sources.
Sophomore defenseman Reed Whiting notched his first collegiate goal, his first point of the season, and his third career point when he let one rip from the boards along the Miami bench, near the RedHawk blue line, a rocket that made it past everyone and right through Burleigh’s five-hole, touching nothing but the back of the far side of the net.
“We keep harping on the defensemen to get their shots on net,” said Markell. “He finally got a shot on net, and it went in.”
With 6:27 left in regulation, it was Glumac again on a sweet feed from Mike Kompon to tie it up for Miami. Kompon dug the puck out along the boards from behind the net, and fired it out front to Glumac, who made quick work of it with a backhand through Betz’s five-hole.
Neither team let up as the final minutes in regulation ticked away. With 1:16 left, even though the whistle had — this time — clearly blown and the clock had been stopped, the puck went into the Ohio State net and the red light went on. There was no goal.
And with just 6.6 seconds left in regulation, Paul Caponigri skated in alone with a full head of steam and blasted one at Burleigh, who sent the game into overtime with one quick glove.
The theatrics didn’t stop there. Midway through overtime, Dave Steckel had an amazing chance with a nearly wide-open net, but somehow — miraculously — Burleigh robbed the OSU sophomore.
Seconds later at the other end, in a scrum reminiscent of the end of Miami’s win the night before, Betz lost sight of the puck in the crease with lots of traffic around the OSU net, but the Buckeye defense managed to clear it away.
The goal that ended the game came five seconds after a faceoff in the right circle in the Miami end. Mike McCormick won the draw for Ohio State and, diving, tossed the puck up to Bittner. Somehow, according the scoresheet, R.J. Umberger had a hand in it between when McCormick flipped the puck toward the net and when the goal went in off of Bittner’s chest, from right in front of the crease.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” said Bittner. “The faceoff went behind their center and Spike [McCormick] just kind of dove for the puck, it went off my chest, and went in. We’ll take it.”
Blasi said that the two games of the weekend split were nearly identical in temperament and style.
“We knew that Ohio State was going to come out hard, and they did,” said Blasi. “I thought we did too. When you look at it, it probably should have been a tie last night and a tie tonight. Both teams got two points.”
The Buckeye bench was shortened during the first few minutes of the game, when Miguel Lafleche separated his shoulder and Ryan Smith suffered a concussion, each during his first shift of the contest. Lafleche is a winger on the OSU’s instrumental second line, and Smith centers the third line.
Markell also thought that he’d lost Chris Olsgard to injury in the first.
“It was three of them down and they couldn’t play, and all of a sudden I had to move little [defenseman] Thomas Welsh up front, which was good. He did a good job up there.”
Lafleche is expected to miss Ohio State’s series against Ferris State Dec. 14-15. Smith was taken to a local hospital where he spent the night for observation.
The win gives Ohio State (9-4-1, 6-3-1 CCHA) 13 points and a tie with Northern Michigan for third. Miami (7-5-1, 5-4-1 CCHA) has 11 points and is tied with Ferris State for fourth.
The Buckeyes take next weekend off before traveling to Big Rapids, while the RedHawks host No.13 Michigan Dec. 7-8.