COLUMBUS, Ohio — With a last-minute goal from junior Steve Canter and a 52-save performance from senior Scott Munroe, the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers stunned the Ohio State Buckeyes 4-3 in Columbus.
“For us to be in the games, we need to get goaltending from Scotty,” said UAH head coach Doug Ross. “We need him to play consistently for us and be able to come back with another game tomorrow night just like he played tonight.
“He’s the backbone of our team. He’s our franchise. When he plays well, we can win good games.”
Junior defenseman Mike Salekin led all Chargers in points with a goal and two assists, including the helper that set up Canter’s game winner. Nine different Chargers registered points in a contest where UAH never trailed.
Leading 1-0 after one and 3-1 after two, the Chargers watched their lead evaporate when the Buckeyes netted two power-play tallies within two minutes early in the third, setting up the exciting final stanza that led to Canter’s game-winning goal at 19:16.
After the Buckeyes cleared all the way to the Charger backboard, Salekin picked up the puck in the corner and passed to Canter, who strode through two OSU defenders to face Buckeye goaltender Dave Caruso alone. Canter crossed from left to right in front of the crease, shifted the puck from backhand to forehand, and went around and behind the sprawling Caruso for the 4-3 lead.
Buckeye head coach John Markell was quick to praise Alabama-Huntsville but quicker to fault his Buckeyes, whose performance he termed “complacent.”
“Alabama-Huntsville played with heart tonight,” said Markell. “Their goaltender was great. They took care of their opportunities. We didn’t, and you end up with a game like that.”
Josh Murray gave UAH the 1-0 lead at 12:19 in the sluggish first period, following a busted OSU offensive play. Buckeye Tyson Strachan shot toward Munroe but hit the skate of teammate Dominic Maiani. The puck squibbed to Jeremy Schreiber, who passed to Tyler Hilbert in the right cicle; Hilbert sent a home-run puck to Murray streaking down the right wing. Murray skated in and around OSU defender Matt Waddell and fired long from the bottom of the right circle to give the Chargers their first advantage.
Three goals scored within a four-minute span in the second did nothing but extend UAH’s lead by two goals. Andrew Schembri had the first equalizer for OSU at 11:00 in the second when he picked up the trash on a power-play scramble to the right of Munroe, but Salekin’s goal from Scott Kalinchuk and Grant Selinger at 12:03 put the Chargers ahead again. And David Nimmo’s sixth marker of the season, a five-on-three power-play goal at 13:26, brought the score to 3-1 heading into the third.
Two more power-play goals by Rod Pelley and Maiani knotted the game once more for the Buckeyes early in the third, but even 12 extra-man chances weren’t enough for OSU in this contest.
Pelley, an OSU captain, said that he understands his coach’s frustration and the use of the term “complacent.”
“When you get 12 power plays in the game myself included on the power play they’re pretty much giving you the game,” said Pelley. “Score some goals on it, pretty much.”
The Buckeyes finished the night 3-for-12 on the power play to UAH’s 1-for-5. Caruso made 22 saves in the loss.
Ross said that the confidence that the Chargers have in Munroe enables them to take some of the offensive chances and make some of the transitional plays that led to their win tonight.
“When he’s playing that way, our guys play a little bit more aggressively, maybe forecheck a little harder. We don’t have to lay back and protect our goalie so much.”
The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Chargers and stopped Ohio State’s five-game win streak. Said Markell, “The team that I stood behind the bench last week, that’s not the same team I saw tonight, and I have a problem with that.”
Alabama-Huntsville (5-4-0, 2-2-0 CHA) and Ohio State (7-6-1, 6-4-1 CCHA) will play a rematch Saturday at 7:05 p.m.
“Our job now,” said Markell, “is to come back and try to beat a good hockey club that’s going to be loose, they’re physical, they work hard, they compete for pucks, and they’ve got good goaltending.”