DURHAM, N.H. — St. Cloud State rode Jason Montgomery’s 34 saves and a perfect 10-for-10 penalty-killing unit to defeat Ohio State in the Ice Breaker consolation game, 3-1. The Huskies weathered a first-period storm in which they were shorthanded six times before taking a second-period lead they would never surrender.
SCSU finished the tournament 1-0-1, having been consigned to the consolation game after losing a shootout to St. Lawrence.
“We got better as the game went on,” said SCSU coach Craig Dahl. “I was real happy to see the way we played with a lead, not doing dumb things, not turning the puck over at the blue line, things that can get you beat.
“Our goaltending was very good both afternoons this weekend. For that we are eternally thankful.”
For Ohio State, however, the tournament represented a lost weekend as the nationally-ranked Buckeyes dropped both games. The power play finished a collective 1-for-18 while the penalty kill surrendered five goals.
“Right now, it’s a special-teams game and we lost that tonight,” said OSU coach John Markell. “It was the same thing last night. We’ve got to find somebody to score some goals. Obviously, it’s disappointing when you don’t, when you get five-on-threes and the shots aren’t getting through or hitting the net.
“A lot of the guys we lost from last year were our penalty-killers. Our guys have to learn under the gun. It’s hard to do that and make adjustments in practice. It’s a tall order with so many young guys.
“I thought the effort was there. I can’t fault them for that. But we’ll have to play a little smarter next time.”
In all likelihood, the game was lost and won in the first period even though it finished scoreless.
“We [survived] it,” said Dahl. “We had six power plays we had to kill off. But there wasn’t any nervousness on the bench, for the players anyways.”
Montgomery added, “I thought we did a great job on the kill. Most of their shots were on the perimeter.”
Ohio State enjoyed the best of it in the period, outattempting St. Cloud, 21-13, but could not capitalize largely because of 11 shots missing the net. As has been the case this season, specialty teams dominated the action with OSU getting six power plays to only two for the Huskies.
The Buckeyes’ first great chance on the advantage came not with the power play set up, but rather when Lee Spector split the defense to break in on Montgomery. The junior made the stop, however, to keep the game scoreless.
The netminder did allow the puck to get past him shortly after the 14-minute mark, but with it resting in clear view behind Montgomery Sean Collins was unable to reach it and convert the rebound.
Later in the period, OSU broke three-on-one with John Dingle carrying the puck up the right side, but Dingle declined to move the puck back to trailer Matt Waddell in the middle and a defender broke up Dingle’s subsequent pass across.
The second period opened with another strong OSU scoring chance, this time on a shorthanded breakaway by Domenic Maiani, who carried up the right-wing side only to be stymied by a Montgomery poke-check.
St. Cloud finally broke the scoreless deadlock at the 7:55 mark, just as a five-on-three advantage expired. With three OSU defenders, the Huskies had moved the puck effectively until Dave Iannazzo finally beat goaltender Dave Caruso from the left faceoff circle.
As the third period opened, OSU’s Dan Knapp cut through and tested Montgomery, but once again the goaltender made the stop. The Buckeyes thought they’d gotten the equalizer three minutes later, but the puck had been knocked in just after the whistle blew.
Within a minute, St. Cloud delivered a potential knockout blow. Andrew Gordon had the puck in the right corner before Joe Jensen fed T.J. McElvoy on the far post, where he buried it in the open side for a 2-0 lead.
Ohio State rallied, however, when freshman Sam Campbell scored his first collegiate goal from in front on a rebound. The Buckeyes then began to swarm the net on a power play that began seconds later, but Montgomery again made all the stops.
Playing four-on-four at 14:57, Gordon put the game away with his first collegiate goal on a breakaway, despite losing the dribble as he was about to make his move.
“It was a little dirtier than I’d hoped for my first one,” he said with a grin. “My backhand is my go-to move, but it failed me yesterday so I was going to switch it up and go to the right this time. Things didn’t pan out yesterday, but I got the lucky bounce today.”