HAMILTON, N.Y. — On Friday, Dave Caruso made up for his limited action this season by seeing plenty of it.
In only his third start of the year, the sophomore all but singlehandedly gave Ohio State a tough 2-1 nonconference victory over Colgate.
After surrendering a first-period power-play goal to Raider captain Rob Brown, Caruso refused to allow the rubber past him again, stopping 32 shots en route to his second victory of the season.
“It’s easy when you face a lot of shots,” said Caruso. “They sent some in from longer range, so it got me more involved. Getting the victory feels really good. A nonconference win is only going to help the team with the PairWise at the end of the year.”
The sophomore had not played since October 10 when he surrendered five goals in a loss to Notre Dame. With Ohio State (9-5-0, 7-3-0 CCHA) playing its first nonconference road game since 2001, coaches felt it was a good opportunity to give regular starter Mike Betz a rest.
“Caruso hasn’t seen action for a long time,” explained Buckeyes head coach John Markell. “So we rested Mike Betz. Dave’s known for two weeks he was going in, and we prepared him accordingly. He’s the goalie of the future, and this is how he’s capable of playing.”
The eager Caruso was happy to be able to help his team.
“You feel kind of limited on the bench,” said the Roswell, Georgia, native. “You do whatever you can in practice, but it’s fun just to be in there. That’s what it’s all about. When I get too uptight, I don’t play well. Today I just went out there to have fun. I didn’t think about anything, I just played.”
Despite the strong play of their goaltender, the Buckeyes still found themselves down 1-0 after the first period. The Raiders (4-4-1, 2-2-0 ECAC) outshot the visitors 10-4 in the opening frame, and seemed to dominate. Ohio State began to click in the middle period, however, and Rod Pelley tallied a wraparound goal to even the score.
“In the second period we had a couple of opportunities and got a couple of bounces,” said Markell. “You knew that was how the game was going to go. It was going to be a bounce here and a bounce there.”
The next bounce fell in the Buckeyes’ favor. A miscue on a line change during a Colgate power play led to a breakaway for Paul Caponigri. The team’s point leader casually fired the puck over Raider goaltender David Cann’s right shoulder for a shorthanded notch.
“Clearly we did not execute that play well, and we shot ourselves in the foot,” commented Colgate head coach Stan Moore. “We carried the play for a lot of the game. When you’re in a situation when you’re doing quite well and in a position to make it a two-, three-, or four-goal lead, it’s very hard for your team to watch a shorthanded goal scored on you. It can take the wind out of any team’s sails.”
Caponigri’s senior classmate Scott May assisted on the game-winning goal, giving him helpers on both Ohio State tallies.
“May’s a good skater,” added Markell. “He knows what he can add to the game. He’s doing a better job of playing consistently, and that’s something that you want from your seniors.”
Colgate controlled the puck for the majority of the third period, but failed to register the equalizer. The Raiders more than doubled the shot total of the Buckeyes at 33-16, but could not take the category that matters most.
“I’m not happy when we don’t win,” said Moore. “When we make mental errors the way we did to cause two goals, I can’t be happy. I’m happy with the effort, but not happy with the outcome.”
The Buckeyes, meanwhile, picked up their first Friday victory in four weeks, but know they will have to continue to raise their level of play.
“I don’t know if it was our best game, but we’ll take it,” said Markell. “There are a lot of things we can improve on. We were trying to address that Friday night thing, and sometimes the best thing to do is go on the road. I thought we played better on this Friday night, but obviously we have a way to go.”
Ohio State completes its ECAC road swing into upstate New York with a trip to Cornell on Saturday night. Meanwhile, Colgate welcomes Bowling Green in an afternoon affair.