COLUMBUS, Ohio — Matt Beaudoin scored twice as the No. 2 seed Ohio State Buckeyes downed 11th-seeded Ferris State, 4-2, to take the first game of this best-of-3 CCHA playoff series.
“We had a lot of young kids out there who were nervous … but I think we did well enough to win that hockey game,” said OSU head coach John Markell.
Dan Knapp and Rod Pelley also scored for OSU, and Jeff Legue and Matt York each capitalized on the power play for Ferris State, Legue’s goal coming five-on-three and York’s five-on-four 15 seconds after a two-man FSU advantage expired.
“I’m really happy we got two power-play goals, but realistically on the negative side is that we didn’t get any even-strength goals,” said Bulldog head coach Bob Daniels. “We weren’t doing a good job of getting the puck out of our zone, and we played too much in our own end tonight.”
The Buckeyes dominated play most of the game, outshooting the Bulldogs 44-23. FSU goaltender Mike Brown was dynamic in net, stopping 40 in the loss. Dave Caruso had 21 saves for his 23rd win of the season for OSU.
Knapp opened the scoring on OSU’s first power play of the game early in the first. Pelley’s initial shot from the point was blocked by a Bulldog defender, but the clear hit Knapp in the head and the puck dropped to his stick. He skated in toward the crease from the left circle and fired, making it 1-0 at 5:36.
Knapp said the goal was pure luck. “I didn’t see anything. I just tried to get my stick on the puck. It hit me right in the facemask. I wasn’t aiming, just trying to get it on net, just swatted at it.
“I didn’t know it went in until I saw everybody stand up. I figured I should put my hands in the air. Thank the Lord it was in; otherwise, I would have looked pretty silly there.”
Legue evened it up at 8:41 in the first with the Bulldogs two men up. It was Derek Nesbitt, Greg Rallo, and Legue passing the puck back and forth at the top of the umbrella before Legue found his opening and shot, with referee Matt Shegos’ arm up indicating another Buckeye penalty waiting in the wings.
The Buckeyes went on to kill another minute of that five-on-three Bulldog power play and answered Legue’s goal when they had a two-man advantage of their own at 14:50. The goal was Beaudoin’s first of the night, a collapse-the-envelope affair that had Beaudoin receiving the puck left from Andrew Schembri right, giving OSU a 2-1 lead after one.
Pelley picked up the garbage around the FSU net at 4:59 in the second to make it 3-1, a goal on which Brown had little chance and absolutely no help, and Beaudoin’s second goal at 15:48 in the third when he picked up Sean Collins’ rebound between the circles.
York’s goal at 19:35 gave the Bulldogs some life, and FSU threatened with Brown out of the net for the last 22 seconds, but it was just too late for Ferris State to make something happen.
“I thought Mike was strong in net, and I was certainly pleased with his play,” said Daniels. “I wasn’t overly displeased with our team’s performance. Like I told our team afterward, I think we’re off by about five percent, but it’s a big five percent, though. If we don’t get that between now and tomorrow … We’ve got to get that in order to beat Ohio State. They’re playing that well.
“I thought Ohio State was terrific. I thought they were extremely solid in all three zones: defensively, neutral zone, and on the forecheck, solid from goal line to goal line.”
The Buckeyes, while happy with the win, thought their performance left something to be desired.
“When we executed our systems, we were on; they couldn’t get the puck out of their zone,” said Knapp. “When we didn’t get pucks deep, tried to force some things at the blue line, they were on. That’s playoff hockey.”
FSU was 2-for-8 on the power play, OSU 2-for-7. Both coaches saw the need to keep out of the box in Saturday’s contest.
“We had at least three and possibly four hooking penalties,” said Daniels. “They weren’t undisciplined penalties, but they were unnecessary penalties. They were lazy-type penalties where you reach out with your stick and you tug. There’s no need for any of them, and Ohio State’s got too good of a power play for us to put them up on penalties that are unnecessary.”
Said Markell, “We just have to make some adjustments to what they’re doing and continue playing our execution, our game plan. That’s where we keep hurting ourselves.”
The Buckeyes (25-8-4) and Bulldogs (12-21-4) meet again Saturday at 7:05 p.m. for the second game of the series. If OSU wins, the Buckeyes will advance to the CCHA Super Six tournament in Detroit next weekend; if Ferris State wins, the teams will meet again Sunday for the deciding game.