COLUMBUS, Ohio — With a 3-2 win over Lake Superior State, the Ohio State Buckeyes completed a weekend sweep and moved up in the standings to second place, but head coach John Markell said that OSU’s ends and the means are out of sync.
“I’m happy we got four points, I’m happy that the guys got four points, but that’s where it ends. My happiness ends there.”
After beating LSSU cleanly 5-0 Friday night, OSU had to come from behind in the second period for this victory in a game that lacked intensity for all but 15 minutes in the middle stanza.
“We were too lackadaisical in our approach to the game,” said Markell. “I talk to them all the time about being consistent, and they weren’t consistent.”
The Buckeyes led 1-0 after one on Paul Caponigri’s power-play goal from Dave Steckel and Doug Andress at 12:09 in the first, but the Lakers came back for two man-advantage tallies of their own in the second to take a brief 2-1 lead, and pressured for the last 1:39 in regulation with goalie Matt Violin pulled for the extra attacker, making OSU netminder Mike Betz work for a living to preserve the win.
In spite of the effort, LSSU head coach Frank Anzalone was clearly agitated after the game. “Basically, the guys puck battled when we took the two-one lead. The next step is that you’ve got to keep it going, but we didn’t so that.”
It was good, old-fashioned hard work by Bo Cheesman, Dominc Osman, and Chris Peterson that led to Lake’s two second-period goals. For the first, Cheesman’s at 3:21, Peterson battled along the boards behind the net to the right, passed along the dashers to Osman left, and Osman sent the puck to Cheesman across the crease. Cheesman’s shot from the right of Betz beat the OSU goaltender long.
It was Osman’s turn at 11:09 in similar fashion, when Peterson passed behind the net, right to left, to Cheesman, who centered a pass to Osman at the top of the slot. Osman fired high and the right of Betz for the Lakers’ brief 2-1 lead.
Finally awakened by the Lakers’ efforts, it took the Buckeyes just 1:18 to answer. Andrew Schembri netted his second of the weekend, the result of hard work in the right LSSU corner by Dan Knapp and Rod Pelley. “Knapper was pinning the guy and doing a good job tying him up,” said Schembri. “I was calling for the puck, Rod knew where I was, and he fed it to me.” Schembri’s shot from the right faceoff dot was his fifth goal of the year.
J.B. Bittner scored the game-winner at 14:57 in the second, fed by Bryce Anderson, and until the final 1:39 of the game, this contest had the intensity of a summer breeze.
“Last night, the effort and the execution were there, but tonight there was effort but the execution failed,” said Markell. “I’m very upset with the attitude that it was going to be the same Friday night.
“I was a hockey player too. You ask anybody who’s played the game — you try to take shortcuts. It’s just in the little things. The little things make a big difference. Whether you’re going to drive through the guy, whether you’re going to clear the puck.
“We did a good job toward the end, blocked some shots. Mike Betz did a good job and stayed in there.
“I thought for 10 minutes in the second period, we were playing our game again. Other than that it was a pretty even hockey game. We’re not there yet. How can we be satisfied?”
For the second consecutive night, Anzalone changed goaltenders during the game in an effort to change his team’s momentum. “It wasn’t the goalies’ fault. Our guys are good enough to stop a couple of shots.”
Anzalone repeated a familiar refrain, that the Lakers aren’t yet playing at the level of other teams in the CCHA. “It’s just not meant to be yet.”
With the win and a loss by Michigan State to Bowling Green, the Buckeyes (15-10-0, 10-7-0 CCHA) now stand in second place in the CCHA with 20 points. OSU faces the Spartans twice in Columbus next weekend.
Lake Superior State (6-9-5, 4-8-3 CCHA), tied for 10th in the league with Bowling Green, hosts Providence for two Jan. 23-24.