COLUMBUS, Ohio — Clarkson took advantage of Ohio State defender Eric Skaug’s five-minute major and game disqualification for spearing to pull within one late in the third period, but Ohio State escaped with a one-goal win to complete the two-game sweep, 4-3.
OSU led 4-1 midway through the third when Miguel Lafleche’s second goal of the season appeared to be nothing more than insurance. The senior was surprised that his power-play tally at 9:01 held up to be the game winner.
“It was 4-1 at that point,” said Lafleche. “We took a few penalties at the end to try to let them back into the game. That was our fault. They were good — they never stopped working — but we kind of helped them out a bit.”
OSU led 2-0 after one on goals by Chris Olsgard and Dave Steckel, both of which beat Clarkson netminder Dustin Traylen low on the glove side.
Lee Spector put into motion the play that led to OSU’s first goal at 6:55. Spector chased a loose puck down into Clarkson’s right circle and wrapped around behind the Golden Knights’ net. His shot from the left circle hit the near post and landed on Reed Whiting’s stick. Olsgard tipped in Whiting’s shot to beat Traylen on the opposite side.
At 11:48, Steckel gave the Buckeyes a 2-0 lead right from a faceoff in the Clarkson end. Scott May won the draw and passed to Paul Caponigri, who centered for Steckel.
Rob McFeeters cut the OSU lead in half just 21 seconds into the second period, catching OSU netminder Mike Betz and the rest of the Buckeyes off guard. With Clarkson swarming around the Buckeye net, McFeeters took a pass from Jay Latulippe and shoveled the puck under Betz’s outstretched glove near the right post to bring the Golden Knights within one.
“At the beginning of the second period, they got that goal, but then they folded their tents,” said OSU head coach John Markell. “For the next seven or eight minutes, we were all over them. We couldn’t put the puck in the net.”
Were it not for Traylen’s play, the score could easily have been more lopsided in the second. As it was, Dan Knapp used a screen to beat Traylen five-hole at 8:05 to put the Buckeyes up 3-1.
Lafleche’s power-play goal at 9:01 in the third was a classic tic-tac-toe event, and seemed to put the cap on the game, until Trevor Edwards spun at 11:40 and surprised Betz with Clarkson’s second goal of the game.
At 12:16, Skaug left the game for spearing, forcing the Buckeyes to kill five minutes of a Clarkson advantage.
Eight seconds after Spector — who served Skaug’s five minutes — came back to play, Pete Broccoli went to the box for cross-checking.
And 15 seconds into Broccoli’s penalty, Chris Blight made the Buckeyes pay the wages of sin, stuffing in Clarkson’s third goal low near the right post.
“Undisciplined penalties cost us,” said Markell. “Other than that, we had them down four-one. We came back with a five-minute penalty from a senior and it cost us. It cost us the momentum in the game, and it almost cost us the game. Then Broccoli, another senior, took a penalty too.
“Just as much as we learned from a good spanking up in Minnesota, I think we can turn this into a lesson and get through it. I think we had an opportunity to bury that team and we didn’t do it. We let them right back into the game and the only reason is undisciplined penalties.”
“We came back strong, but the difference in the game was two sticks we didn’t pick up in our end in the first period,” said Mark Morris, Clarkson head coach. “Ohio State was strong on their sticks and they buried two passes that were centered.
“I was pleased that we continued to battle when we were down four-one and made it a hockey game. It’s a game of inches, and it didn’t bounce our way.
“I was pretty pleased with our freshman goalie, the performance he gave us in his first college outing.”
The Golden Knights (0-2-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) open their ECAC schedule with a game against St. Lawrence Nov. 2. Next weekend, Ohio State (3-1-1, 1-0-1) hosts a pair of ECAC opponents, when Cornell visits Value City Arena Nov. 1, followed by Colgate Nov. 3.