COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State surprised Miami 1:30 into the first and continued to control on its way to a 9-3 home-opening win, dealing the RedHawks their first loss of the year and moving, for the moment, into sole possession of first place in the CCHA standings.
Domenic Maiani and Matt Waddell each had two goals and in the contest and Dave Caruso made 33 saves in a win that marks the first time since 1991 that OSU scored at least nine goals against a league opponent.
OSU led 3-2 after one, but exploded for five unanswered second-period goals, starting with two shorthanders just over a minute apart early in the period, turning the tide in the Buckeyes’ favor.
“There was a bit of a momentum swing when we scored a couple of goals shorthanded,” said head coach John Markell. “Nine goals — you have a bunch of hungry young guys that have never played here and they rode the momentum. It was nice to see.”
Seven rookies saw ice time for Ohio State, six for Miami. Freshman goaltender Charlie Effinger allowed the first six OSU goals and was replaced midway through the second by sophomore Steve Hartley, who allowed three.
“I think we didn’t have a good effort tonight,” said Miami head coach Enrico Blasi. “I think we can collectively say that. I don’t think that’s the best team [effort] you’ll see from Miami. I think Ohio State played extremely well. They deserved everything that they got tonight.”
The teams exchanged goals in the first, starting with Maiani’s first career goal at 1:30. Senior captain JB Bittner backhanded the puck out of the corner to Tom Fritsche, whose shot was stopped by Effinger. Maiani, however, picked up the rebound to make it 1-0.
Pat Levendusky answered for Miami at 8:27, his first goal of the season, putting the RedHawks’ fourth attempt in one short flurry into the net to tie the game. At 14:10, Waddell’s first of the night — a one-timer from the top of the slot — gave OSU its second lead, but Matt Christie scored unassisted three minutes later to again knot the game.
Maiani’s second goal of the night — the first power-play tally of the contest, at 18:15 — gave OSU the lead for good, but the freshman forward made a quick exit less than a minute later at 19:29, earning a minor penalty for contact to the head, a five-minute major for checking from behind, and a game misconduct, setting up the situation early in the second that led to two shorthanded Buckeye goals and the momentum swing.
“We normally don’t force pucks on the power play, but a little bit had to do with what Ohio State was doing, and we need to adjust to that,” said Blasi. “Against a good hockey team you can’t do that. You’ve got to play what the game gives you.
“Any time you take a five-minute penalty, it’s either going to work for you or against you. Tonight it worked against us. Last week [when] we played Notre Dame, they had a five-minute [power play] and we killed it off. It’s a huge momentum swing and obviously for them to score a couple of goals, that’s the game.”
Both shorthanders were odd-man breakaways on which Effinger had little chance.
At 2:18, it was Lee Spector on the right wing and Matt McIlvane left; Spector fed McIlvane across the slot and McIlvane put it past Effinger clean on the left. At 3:56, it was Dan Knapp and Rod Pelley, with Knapp’s single shot from the right of the crease going five-hole past Effinger.
Waddell scored his second at 7:29, Pelley added a power-play goal of his own at 15:05, and Nate Guenin netted his first of the year at 17:01 to give the Buckeyes an 8-2 lead after two. Matt Beaudoin’s power-play goal for OSU at 7:19 and Andy Nelson’s unassisted effort at 12:43 for Miami brought the final score to 9-3.
Miami went 0-for-9 on the power play; OSU was 3-for-10, plus the two shorthanders. In spite of early-season grumblings about the new emphases in officiating, the game did not feel much different from last season’s games, but Markell said that this contest wasn’t like those in Big Rapids, Mich., last weekend, or in New Hampshire the week before.
“Tonight was a little bit different than what we’ve had in the four [previous] games, but much along the same lines. I don’t think it was as drastic as it’s been. You know, Matt Shegos is rated the number-one referee in our league for a reason. Maybe he has a better grasp of what they want, has more confidence doing that. You’d have to ask the league whether they liked that game or not.”
Ohio State (3-2-0, 3-0-0 CCHA) and Miami (4-1-0, 2-1-0) meet again Friday night in Oxford, where the puck drops at 7:35 p.m.
“We’re going to need a tough hockey team there tomorrow night — mentally tough and physically tough — in order to get it done,” said Markell.
Said Blasi, “The nice thing about college hockey is that you come back tomorrow night.”