OXFORD, Ohio — Chris Michael’s overtime power-play goal lifted the RedHawks over the Buckeyes, 4-3, keeping Miami in the hunt for the regular-season CCHA title.
With the Wolverines and Spartans tying in East Lansing, the RedHawks are just one point behind Michigan in league play with one game remaining in the season, but Miami head coach Enrico Blasi said that the RedHawks aren’t thinking beyond having to play a rematch against Ohio State Saturday night in Columbus.
“We’ve looked at it one game, one week at a time,” said Blasi. “If we happen to be there, then great, and if not we just have to move forward. One thing this team’s always done well this year is that the highs haven’t been too high and the lows haven’t been too low.”
Seven different players accounted for the goals between both teams in a contest that was back-and-forth, end-to-end. Greg Hogeboom had a goal and an assist for Miami, and Matt Waddell had a two-point game for the Buckeyes with two helpers.
“It was a good hockey game,” said Blasi. “Unfortunately it came down to a bounce in the end, but both teams played a good game tonight.”
That bounce was Michaels’ power-play goal at 3:07 in OT with OSU’s Chris Olsgard in the box for holding. From the top of the right circle, Hogeboom rifled the puck to Michaels, stationed left of the net; Michaels stuffed the puck in between the left post and Buckeye goaltender Mike Betz for his sixth goal of the year and the 20th Miami win of the season.
Ohio State head coach John Markell made no attempt to hide his contention with the overtime call.
“We played a good road game, we fought until the end. It would be nice, for once, for the team to determine the outcome of the game,” said Markell. “This has been happening for five games now for us, five games in a row. It’s getting a little sickening.”
Markell didn’t question the call itself, but said that referee Steve McInchak had the opportunity to call something similar against Miami at the other end when the Buckeyes were on the odd-man rush earlier in the overtime.
“We had a two-on-one and he [a Miami player] gives [Scott May's stick] three yanks, right in front of a referee, and he calls that [the Olsgard penalty] and then that’s going to determine the outcome of the game?”
Markell did say that the Buckeyes had opportunities before the overtime to win the game. “I thought we played very well. We played a great road game, had good execution, got a power-play goal at the right time. I’ll take that effort every night. I’ll especially take it again tomorrow night.”
May opened the scoring for the Buckeyes at 9:55 in the first when he went in shorthanded and beat Brandon Crawford-West on the stick side, but Marty Guerin tied it for the RedHawks at 17:35, with his one-timer on a beautifully executed Miami power play.
Sean Collins broke the 1-1 tie at 3:59 in the second, giving OSU its second lead of the night on his blast from the top of the right circle, but Hogeboom knotted the score again at 12 minutes later when he flew in on the right wing and lifted the puck up and over Betz’s glove for his 17th goal of the season.
The RedHawks took their first lead of the night at 5:21 in the third after Tyler Hustead won the puck along the boards left of the OSU net and passed to Geoff Smith, who skated in alone on Betz, threading the Buckeye goaltender’s five-hole. But — predictably — the Buckeyes tied the game once more when Matt Beaudoin capitalized on the OSU power play, scoring point-blank from left of the net at 10:48.
As the clock ticked down to the final minutes of regulation, each team played more and more cautiously to avoid giving up a fluky, game-ending goal. Given that this was the second-to-last game of the regular season and the only overtime contest in which Ohio State has been involved this year, a game-ending power-play goal was bound to draw the ire of the Buckeye coaching staff.
“I didn’t see it,” said Blasi of the penalty. “That’s the game, you know?”
Crawford-West made 30 saves in the win; Betz stopped 19 shots. The RedHawks were 2-for-8 on the power play to the Buckeyes’ 1-for-6 power-play performance.
The teams meet again Saturday night at 8:05 p.m. in Value City Arena for the regular-season finale.
“I just look for another intense game between these two rivals,” said Blasi. “Both teams play hard, both teams can hurt you in more ways than one. It’s another game in the CCHA pitting two good teams.”