COLUMBUS, Ohio — Dave Caruso pocketed his third shutout of the season, the ninth of his career, as the Ohio State Buckeyes blanked the Holy Cross Crusaders, 4-0, to advance to Friday’s Ohio Hockey Classic title game against intrastate rival Miami.
“Holy Cross played a good game,” said OSU head coach John Markell. “We knew they were going to come in and kind of blitz us with their speed and work ethic. We knew it was going to come for 60 minutes, which it did.
“I thought we had opportunities to score some goals, probably more than just the two we were ahead in the second period, but they also had the opportunity to make it two-to-two on two wide-open breakaways.”
Caruso faced two breakaways on his first nine shots through two periods of play, both coming in the closing moments of each respective period. Crusader Jon Landry took the puck and zipped toward Caruso after exiting the penalty box at 19:08 in the first, and Tanner Fogarty broke in alone, shorthanded, with less than a minute to go in the second. Caruso used his pad to save Landry’s shot, and closed his five-hole in the nick of time against Fogarty.
Holy Cross goaltender Tony Quesada was no slouch in the loss, making 40 saves as the Buckeyes outshot the Crusaders 44-14.
“Tony’s a good goaltender and he did a good job of controlling his rebounds,” said Crusader head coach Paul Pearl.
“You know you have a fighter’s chance when you have a couple of breakaways, one at one-nothing and one at two-nothing. That’s the type of game that you have to play when you come in like this, hang in there, but then in the second half of the game I think we took the majority of those penalties and that’s what you can’t do.”
The Buckeyes took advantage of Holy Cross’s penalty trouble, netting power-play goals in the second and the third.
Mathieu Beaudoin’s seventh of the season gave OSU a 1-0 lead after one, the pretty end of a two-on-one breakaway with Dave Barton left, Beaudoin right.
At 14:09 in the second, Sean Collins let go a blast from the left point after taking a feed from Rod Pelley at right point on the power play to make it 2-0 after two. Kenny Bernard and Matt Waddell registered third-period goals, Bernard’s when he was pushed into the net by a Crusader defender as Sam Campbell was also crashing the net, and Waddell’s on the power play from Dan Knapp and Collins.
“We didn’t play very disciplined tonight,” said Pearl, “and if you’re going to beat a team like that you’re going to have to stay out of the box and play five-on-five and not turn the puck over.”
In all, the Buckeyes were 2-for-8 on the power play, the Crusaders 0-for-4.
The game was Caruso’s first since a 2-2 tie against Alabama-Huntsville Dec. 3, after which he had knee surgery. Sophomore Ian Keserich earned two wins for the Buckeyes against visiting Union Dec. 10-11.
“I think Caruso’s always up to the challenge,” said Waddell,. “Even our freshman year, when he was backup goalie, he was always working hard. I think Ian kind of challenged him there and he stepped up to the challenge really well.”
The Buckeyes (10-6-2, 6-4-1 CCHA) will face Miami in Friday’s 8:05 p.m. OHC title game, while the Crusaders (9-4-1, 7-2-1 AHA) will play Rensselaer in the 5:05 p.m. consolation game.
“Any time it’s a game against Miami, we’re always up for it,” said Waddell. “It’s as big a rivalry for us as it is playing Michigan. We love playing against them, and it’s always an intense game.”
Said Markell, “It’s our opportunity to play the No. 2 team in the nation. This was set up to be an Ohio championship. It’s nice to see that Miami’s here. They had a lot of fans, and hopefully we’ll have a good crowd here tomorrow night and show these people what collegiate hockey’s all about.”