COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State Buckeyes’ 3-2 win Friday over the Yale Bulldogs was a tight, defensive game, after which one coach was pleased with his team’s efforts, while the other was not.
You might be surprised which was which.
“That game was sort of typical of our entire season,” said Yale head coach Tim Taylor. “We’ve had an awful lot of losses and it’s wearing on our boys, but we lost with dignity and integrity, if you will. They played very hard, well enough to win.
“I think that was our 12th or 13th one-goal game.”
“I thought we played well enough to win,” said OSU head coach John Markell. “They [Yale] did generate a lot. I thought we had quite a few players with an off game tonight. It was reminiscent of last Friday; it’s like deja vu to me. It’s my job to figure it out. Something’s got to change, because our Friday night games right now, we’re a step behind.
“Let’s give all the credit. Yale works hard. I thought maybe after the first period we might make a few adjustments, but we didn’t. Quite frankly, I’m going to have to make some adjustments, because it’s not acceptable — not at this time of year.”
Paul Caponigri had two assists for the Buckeyes, including on Scott May’s game-winning goal. Evan Wax and Vin Hellemeyer scored for the Bulldogs. Mike Betz stopped 24 of 26 Yale shots while Dan Lombard turned aside 19 Ohio State attempts.
“I think we underestimated them,” said May. “We didn’t really know what they had. They’re [the type of] team that we constantly have trouble with. They’re the type of team that comes hard, plays very defensive. They were just always on us.”
R.J. Umberger gave OSU a 1-0 lead after one when he scored on Pete Broccoli’s long-range feed at 5:12 in the first. Broccoli banked the puck off the glass to Umberger in the neutral zone; the sophomore forward skated in alone on Lombard, passed from his forehand to his backhand while crossing from right to left across the crease, and put it by Lombard clean and low on the left.
Daymen Bencharski’s second-period goal made it 2-0 in favor of the Buckeyes at 6:51. After taking a clearing pass from Doug Andress, Caponigri flew in on the right wing with Bencharski on the left. At the bottom of the right circle, Caponigri stopped short and deked Lombard, drawing the Yale goaltender left. Caponigri then sent a cross-crease backhanded pass to Bencharski, who put the puck in the empty net.
“The only reason it wasn’t icing,” said Caponigri, “is that it hit their defenseman’s glove. I saw that I had a lot of time, so I waited. I saw Daymen coming … and he was wide open.”
Yale drew to within one on a very pretty second effort by Wax on the power play at 12:42. Peppered in close by the Eli offense, Betz had trouble covering the puck on Wax’s original shot. Wax picked up the rebound in front of the OSU netminder — who was on his knees at the outer edge of the crease — and scooped the puck back and around Betz into the wide-open net, breaking Betz’s shutout streak of 154:08.
It was 2-1 Ohio State after one.
A turnover at the Buckeye blue line led to Yale’s tying goal at 7:55 in the third. Ryan Trowbridge picked up the OSU mistake, setting up a two-on-one with Hellemeyer on the right and Trowbridge left. Trowbridge drew Betz left and passed across to Hellemeyer, who put it in clean.
But on the very next shift, at 8:03 Bulldog Ryan Steeves was called for obstruction tripping along the boards near the left circle in the OSU zone — the last penalty of the night — and the Buckeyes capitalized for the game-winner.
After Mike McCormick fished the puck out of the right corner and passed to Caponigri at the right post, Caponigri sent the puck through the crease along the goal line — slowly — and when the puck finished its journey past Yale defender Joe Callahan and Lombard, Scott May put it home.
Both Caponigri and May said the off-speed of the puck through the crease probably threw the Yale defense off.
“I whiffed on a pass,” said Caponigri, “and then I just tried to poke it across the crease. It was kind of an accident.”
“I saw that Paul had the puck on the side of the net,” said May. “It actually went right under the defenseman’s legs. I thought the goalie was going to hit it, but I don’t know what was going on there. It actually went behind the goal line, and I brought it back and put it in.”
In spite of being disappointed with the Buckeye team effort, Markell will take the win.
“The power play came through at the right time, and we did have some players play very well that kept us in there,” he said. “There are some guys playing hard, but we’re the type of team that needs 18 to 20 guys going, not just five or six.”
Markell pointed to Betz’s effort, especially in the third period when Yale outshot OSU 11-5. When the Bulldogs pulled Lombard in favor of the extra skater at 18:29, their pressure on the Buckeyes seemed to quadruple, and Betz earned his keep. At 18:34, the Ohio State goaltender closed his five-hole just in time to thwart Higgins from the top of the slot, and moments later made a near-miraculous stop on Joe Callahan’s blast from the left circle.
“I thought it was a great college hockey game, two very disciplined, hard-working teams,” said Taylor. “Before the game I thought it was going to be a pretty low-scoring game because we pride ourselves defensively.
“I think Coach Markell has done a great job with disciplining that team. Their defensive posture was great all night long. They protect their goalie very well, keep you down to a minimum of shots.”
Yale (5-11-2, 5-5-2 ECAC) and Ohio State (14-7-2, 9-5-2 CCHA) meet again Sunday at 12:35 p.m. in Value City Arena. In the meantime, Taylor said his team will rest rather than see the sights in Columbus.
“We have a skate tomorrow, a practice at the other rink,” Taylor said. “We’ll get some of the kinks out, maybe talk about a few things and walk through some things. Physiologically, the day is going to be used for rest.
“We spent a lot of energy. Our key guys are pretty tired.”