COLUMBUS, Ohio — Scott May’s tip of Paul Caponigri’s second-period blast held up to be the game winner as the Ohio State Buckeyes edged the Golden Knights of Clarkson, 4-2, in Value City Arena.
Dan Knapp had two assists for OSU and RJ Umberger scored once early and hit the empty net. Kevin O’Flaherty and Jay Latulippe had the goals for Clarkson, while Golden Knight netminder Mike Walsh stopped 32 in the effort.
“I thought we played a real good first period,” said Clarkson head coach Mark Morris. “We knew that if we didn’t turn the puck over, tried to keep it out of the hands of their skilled forwards up front — we realize they’re blessed with some pretty talented offensive players — we felt … we could capitalize.
“Too many penalties was the problem.”
Even though the Knights took four third-period penalties while playing with a one-goal deficit, OSU was unable to profit from the man advantage.
“I think we have to improve a little bit on our power play,” said OSU head coach John Markell. “We provided ourselves with opportunity, and I think we can convert a little bit better.”
Clarkson took a 1-0 lead 6:53 into the first period on O’Flaherty’s screened blast from the far side of the right circle, but Umberger evened it up for OSU 10 minutes later, a top-shelf shot right from Knapp’s post-faceoff pass.
The Buckeyes jumped out to their first lead of the game 1:11 into the second when Dave Steckel netted his second of the season, making it 2-1 OSU, but the Knights came back at 6:36 when Latulippe put one up and over the outstretched glove of OSU goaltender Mike Betz to tie the score at two-all. The goal was Latulippe’s first marker of the year.
OSU wasted no time in recapturing the lead, scoring just 20 seconds later. May redirected Caponigri’s rocket from the top of the slot to beat Walsh clean and low and low and give the Buckeyes the 3-2 lead after two. Umberger capped the game with the empty-net goal at 19:20 in the third.
“I liked how we got stronger as the game went on,” said Markell. “I thought they played very well in the first period, kind of took it to us. I think we made a few adjustments to the way they were forechecking us and asked our defensemen to hit a little bit more so that we could make that play, and they did.”
The brightest spot for Clarkson was Walsh, whose performance robbed several OSU forwards of goals.
“I thought Mike Walsh played really well for us tonight. He stood tall and made some great saves,” said Morris.
Walsh was at his best late in the third period while the Knights were killing off a penalty. Steckel had a completely open net, loads of time, and the perfect opportunity to increase the OSU lead, but Walsh robbed the Buckeye of a certain goal by scooting from one post to the other — on his back — and just getting a piece of Steckel’s shot, which went up and over the Clarkson cage.
Walsh’s counterpart, Mike Betz, made 26 saves in his second win of the season. OSU went 0-for-6 on the power play to Clarkson’s 0-for-4.
Morris said that he was frustrated with the time his squad spent in the penalty box particularly because decreasing penalties has been a point of emphasis for the Clarkson coaching staff.
“It’s been a long couple of years for us in that department,” said Morris. “We’re really a big statement this year to avoid costly penalties at critical times because we’re not a real deep team.”
Markell said that while Clarkson “took some penalties and that kind of kept our momentum going … they’re a good hockey club.”
The Golden Knights (0-1-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) and the Buckeyes (2-1-1, 1-0-1 CCHA) meet again Sunday at 3:05 p.m. at Value City. Morris said that Clarkson would like to spend the off day at the Horseshoe, where OSU hosts Penn State in Big Ten football action.
“We’re hoping we can find a few football tickets to get into the game,” said Morris. “We came here with the idea that we were going to get in, and I guess they’re pretty scarce. So if anybody wants to turn them over, we’d love to get in there.”