COLUMBUS, Ohio — There were nine goals scored between the Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks and Ohio State Buckeyes, but in the end, only one really mattered.
With 20 seconds left in regulation with the score tied 4-4, UAF forward Tom Herman found OSU netminder Mike Betz’s five-hole, giving the Nanooks a 5-4 victory and a two-game weekend road sweep over the nationally-ranked Buckeyes.
“I was really proud of our team, because every time they scored, we came back,” said UAF head coach Guy Gadowsky. “We went into the dressing room at the end of the second period tied, and it was time for us to take a lead and we did — and they responded the same we had all game, with a quick goal to come back.
“I think both teams showed a lot of mental strength, but 19.7 seconds was enough to come back the last time.”
The Nanooks and Buckeyes exchanged goals all throughout the game, and the score was tied 1-1 less than two minutes into the first period.
OSU’s Chris Olsgard put the Buckeyes on the board at 1:34, but UAF’s Jordan Hendry answered 15 seconds later to knot it at one. Olsgard’s second goal of the night at 14:44 gave OSU a 2-1 lead after one.
Jared Sylvestre — who had an outstanding weekend, assisting on two UAF goals Friday night — put UAF ahead for the first time in the game midway through the second period, but OSU’s R.J. Umberger answered less than five minutes later to tie the game, and the second ended 3-3.
The teams exchanged goals again within the first minute of play in the third period. Ryan Campbell — another Nanook with a multi-point weekend — scored just 28 seconds into the third to give UAF a 4-3 lead. It was the first shot of the period, an odd-man rush, and the first shot Betz faced in the contest, having replaced David Caruso at the start of the third.
But 17 seconds later, Rod Pelley made it all even once again, scoring unassisted for OSU to tie it 4-4.
And the game looked to be heading into overtime — until a botched play from a faceoff in the OSU zone, the result of a Buckeye icing, led to Herman’s game winner with 19.7 seconds left.
“Lang [Felipe Larranaga] and I were kind of going for a quick shot, and he won the draw a little too fast,” said Herman. “I kind of kicked it over to Philly [again, Larranaga] and he just gave it back to me. I tried to get as much as I could on it, and it went into Betz’s five-hole.”
The loss is the third in a row for the Buckeyes, who once looked to challenge Ferris State for first place. Now OSU — one point away from securing home ice in the first round of the CCHA playoffs — has slipped to third behind Michigan in league standings.
“I thought we took a step forward from last Saturday and last night,” said OSU head coach John Markell. “I thought we played hard.
“We’ve won games like that, and we just lost one like that. It’s disheartening, but the main thing is what we accomplished compared to what we did on Friday night.”
The Nanooks (12-12-6, 9-11-6 CCHA) host Miami in Fairbanks next Friday and Saturday, while the Buckeyes (21-9-3, 15-7-2) travel to Marquette to face Northern Michigan.