COLUMBUS, Ohio — In a game that was as exciting as watching gelatin congeal, cellar-dwelling Lake Superior State tied No. 14 Ohio State 1-1 in Value City Arena.
Both goals were scored less than a minute apart early in the first, leaving fans to watch a full 60 minutes of scoreless, relatively uninspired hockey.
Daymen Bencharski scored the Buckeye goal, while Tyson Turgeon registered one for the Lakers. LSSU netminder Matt Violin made 34 saves in the game to OSU’s Mike Betz’s 23.
“It was a real defensive game,” said OSU head coach John Markell. “It came down to the bounce of a puck here and there. I thought we played well at points. We stuck to our systems. We played smart enough to get a point.
“We had an opportunity to score goals. Their goalie played well.”
In fact, the sole bright spot in the game was the play of Violin, who after allowing the early, soft goal made solid saves when tested, especially late in the third period and in overtime.
“I owed my team a strong game after that [goal] went in,” said Violin, who added that there seemed to be little momentum for either team in the contest.
“It was back and forth. Both teams seemed to be in the other’s end.”
Bencharski scored the first goal at 2:56 in the first from the top of the right faceoff circle, a one-timer that beat the screened Violin on the short side and high.
Then at 3:34, Tyson Turgeon poked in the Lake State goal from the bottom of the left post by dislodging the puck from Betz’s hands.
After the game, Betz said he had control of the puck and was just waiting for the whistle — which never came.
“I was down on it, I had my blocker on top of it, and [the puck] was between my pad and my stick.
“I just don’t understand how he [Referee Mark Wilkins] could see the puck from the other side of the net. If he could, it had to be x-ray vision, because it had to be through my stick and my pad. I don’t know why he didn’t blow the whistle.”
Other than a few off-sides calls and a couple of icings, the whistles were silent in this contest, as no penalties were called — and there were no complaints from the Laker camp.
“Pretty much every game this year, we’ve had a power-play goal against,” said Violin. “It’s good to play a game like that, without penalties.”
“I give the ref a lot of credit,” said LSSU head coach Frank Anzalone. “Players at times fall down when they’re tired, and you really shouldn’t penalize a guy if he hits a guy and a stick catches.
“It helps us. I’m not going to lie to you. Not having Umberger and Steckel and No. 9 [Scott May] on the power play helps us, but the bottom line is that I thought we played hard enough that maybe we didn’t have to get any penalties.”
With the win and a little help from other teams around the league, Ohio State (12-7-2, 8-5-2 CCHA) retains sole possession of third place in the CCHA by just one point over Alaska-Fairbanks. Lake Superior (6-14-1, 3-11-1 CCHA) remains in last place, three points behind Bowling Green.
The teams face off again in their final regular-season meeting of 2001-02 Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. in Value City Arena.