COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State Buckeyes jumped out to a 3-0 through the early going in the second period and held on to beat the Miami RedHawks 4-1 in Value City Arena.
For OSU, Daymen Bencharski had two goals in the game, R.J. Umberger registered a goal and two helpers, and Scott May broke his nine-game goal-scoring drought. Pavel Nejezchleb found the net for Miami, his only goal of the season.
It was the third game in four nights for both teams, and both the RedHawks and Buckeyes had a challenging weekend schedule. Miami dropped two home games to Michigan State Friday and Saturday nights, while Ohio State was losing twice in Ann Arbor to Michigan — the two teams tied for first place in CCHA standings — and tonight’s contest seemed flat from start to finish.
Miami head coach Enrico Blasi said that the scheduling quirk wasn’t a factor in Monday’s game. “Ohio State was the better team. Any questions?”
“I thought we played well for three games in four nights,” said John Markell, OSU head coach. “I thought we were tired in the third. It might have taken a little more out of us, the traveling. I thought they [Miami] might have had a little more spunk in the end, but I thought our defense kept it to the outside, our players kept it along the wall. They didn’t get that many grade-A opportunities. They worked hard, but we were able to come up with some timely goal scoring.”
Bencharski opened the scoring at 5:11 in the first period from Umberger and Scott Titus. Titus fed Umberger on the breakaway in the neutral zone, and the OSU sophomore went into the Miami end, threaded his way through two RedHawk defenders, and shot on David Burleigh left of the cage. Burleigh made a big save but gave up an even bigger rebound to Bencharski, who followed the play into the zone on the right and put the puck into a wide-open net.
May made it 2-0 at 2:06 in the second, capitalizing on a scramble in front of the Miami net, and Umberger put the Buckeyes up 3-0 at 6:15. Umberger’s goal — the prettiest of the night, of course — came from a cross-slot feed from May. May’s pass from left to right hit Umberger right on the logo on the front of his jersey; Umberger gloved the puck down to his stick and sent it past Burleigh short-side.
After Umberger’s goal, David Bowen replaced Burleigh in the RedHawk net, an effort, said Blasi, to get something going. “Whatever works at this point,” said Blasi. “I thought David Bowen played well. He made four or five breakaway saves.”
Nejezchleb cut the OSU lead to two at 10:53 in the second, a blue-line blast that hit Mike Betz on the right shoulder and went in top shelf.
The third period lagged, with OSU outgunning Miami 9-6, but with the exception of Bencharski’s empty-netter — one that he pushed in while sliding toward the net on his belly, being ridden down by RedHawk Danny Stewart — neither team looked as though it had the energy to score.
“I don’t think we were ready to play tonight,” said Blasi. “Ohio State was and they took it to us. It could have been a lot worse.”
Mike Betz made 24 saves in his 17th win of the season. David Burleigh earned the loss, stopping 15 shots through 26:15. David Bowen made 11 saves in the 32:27 he played.
The Buckeyes were 1-for-3 on the power play, scoring their third power-play goal in two games after a 32-attempt drought. Miami went 0-for-5 with the man advantage.
“We’ll take the win,” said Markell, “and we’ll take some time off here to prepare for Friday night’s game.”
Ohio State (17-14-4, 12-11-4 CCHA) and Miami (11-20-2, 8-17-2 CCHA) meet for each team’s final regular-season game Friday, Mar. one in Oxford, Ohio. The puck drops in Goggin Arena at 7:35 p.m.