OXFORD, Ohio — After clubbing the No. 6 Miami RedHawks 9-3 in their home opener Thursday night, the Ohio State Buckeyes were looking for a more competitive game on the road in Goggin Arena Friday. They got it, and also got a 2-1 win, sweeping the RedHawks, snapping Miami’s 14-game home unbeaten streak and extending their own win streak to four, all CCHA contests.
The streak marks the first time since 1983-84 that OSU has begun a season with four league wins. “Coming in, I didn’t expect us to be 4-0,” said Buckeye forward Rod Pelley. “This series is a huge step for us.”
Pelley factored large in OSU’s “huge step” this weekend; the junior netted both goals in Friday’s win — both on the power play, both rockets from the right point — in addition to contributing a goal and two assists in Thursday’s lopsided victory.
Junior goaltender Dave Caruso had 26 saves in the road game, 59 total in the two-game set.
“He made some huge saves there at the end,” said head coach John Markell. Indeed, Caruso stood tall in the closing minutes of the third period after Buckeyes Dave Barton and Matt Beaudoin were assessed penalties at 18:07 and 19:50, respectively.
The Miami bench took a minor for too many men in between those two infractions — at 19:03 — but with Brandon Crawford-West pulled in favor of the extra attacker, the RedHawk skaters outnumbered the Buckeyes and Miami had real chances to tie it up right down to the buzzer.
Miami head coach Enrico Blasi said the RedHawks have “a lot of work to do.”
“I think we played better than we did last night. I think Ohio State’s just a better team right now. Well, we are young and you’ve got to remember that, but a lot of it was what Ohio State did. They just outplayed us all weekend long, and we didn’t adjust very well.”
All three goals were scored in the second period. Pelley’s first came at 2:49, on a cross-ice pass from Dan Knapp in the left circle. Pelley’s shot from the top of the right dot beat Crawford-West long and clean.
Nathan Davis tied it up for the RedHawks at 8:17 in a flurry of activity in front of the Buckeye net. Caruso made the stop on Matt Christie’s initial shot, but the rebound went straight for Davis’ stick, left of the crease, for the freshman’s first collegiate goal.
Pelley’s game-winner came two seconds into a power play, at 8:41. With Matt Davis in the box for obstruction hooking, Domenic Maiani won the draw in Miami’s right circle, tapped back to Pelley at the point, and Pelley fired — a goal identical to his first.
“I’m just shooting the puck,” was the only explanation Pelley had for his fourth and fifth goals of the season. Pelley had 10 goals total in 2003-04.
The Buckeyes were 2-for-9 on the power play while holding Miami 0-for-9.
Coming into the weekend, the RedHawks were second in the nation in power-play production; OSU stifled all 20 Miami power plays in the two-game series.
Both Pelley and Markell were quick — and obviously pleased — to point out that tonight’s win was as much a team effort as Thursday’s victory.
“I liked our hockey team tonight,” said Markell. “I thought from the drop of the puck that we played a good hockey game — and we had to. We knew what the odds were here for winning. To a man we had effort and displayed a passion for the game that’s nice to see.
“These kids, you can see they enjoy being hockey players. We’re making each other better; the 25th guy is making the first guy better, and the first guy is making the 25th guy better. You can feel it in that dressing room.”
Crawford-West had 27 saves in his first loss of the season.
Next up for Ohio State (4-2-0, 4-0-0 CCHA) is a two-game series in Western Michigan, Oct. 29-30. Miami (4-2-0, 2-2-0 CCHA) travels to St. Lawrence for two nonconference games the same dates.