COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Buckeyes snapped a three-game winless streak in a most improbable way, by delivering the No. 3 Miami RedHawks just their third CCHA loss of the season in the form of a 3-0 shutout.
Ohio State’s sophomore class accounted for all three tallies, with John Dingle’s fourth goal of the season at 2:01 in the first winning the game. Tom Fritsche scored in the second and added an assist on Dominic Maiani’s third-period goal. Senior captain Nate Guenin also had two helpers in the game.
For Ohio State’s ailing offense, three even-strength goals was the perfect prescription.
“What we needed to do was get to the net and drive to the net like when Johnny Dingle got that rebound goal there,” said Fritsche. “We definitely got to the net better tonight.”
During their last three, winless games dating back to a 1-1 tie with Miami at the Ohio Hockey Classic and including a two-game home-and-home sweep by Bowling Green last Friday and Saturday the Buckeyes had mustered just three goals, and hadn’t found the back of the net since the second period of their 3-2 loss to BGSU Jan. 6.
“It comes down to hockey players being hockey players,” said OSU head coach John Markell. “I think they were sick and tired of gaining the puck and losing the puck. They know they’re better than that.
“Tonight, I thought our puck possession skills were a lot better, passing was a lot better, and that was an awfully nice third goal. We also had a little luck tonight and good PK. I think we were a physical team tonight, and we sustained that, which gave us a little more time and space.”
Dingle’s goal was a pick-up of Sean Collins’ initial blast from near the blue line. Jeff Zatkoff made the save but gave up an uncharacteristically large rebound, and Dingle was able to backhand it behind the Miami netminder for the early lead.
Fritsche made it 2-0 at 10:19 in the second by wrapping around the Miami net from left to right, and accidentally banking the puck in off RedHawk Alec Martinez’s backside.
Said Fritsche, “Sam [Campbell] was in front wide openand I was just trying to get to him.”
Maiani’s goal at 3:33 in the third came on a rush with linemates Campbell and Fritsche, with Campbell dishing to Maiani near the bottom of the left circle.
Miami head coach Enrico Blasi said that his squad just couldn’t match OSU’s intensity in this, the fourth meeting of the season between the RedHawks and Buckeyes.
“They played hard. They brought their intensity and they brought their A game, obviously. Listening to what they had to say in the papers and things like that, they were very disappointed in their weekend and they obviously took it out on us tonight.”
As is usual when Miami and OSU meet, there were plenty of penalties, including a game-ending five-on-three advantage for the Buckeyes when both Andy Green and Mitch Ganzak were in the penalty box for the final 1:24 of the game.
“That game,” said Markell, “the way it was going, you didn’t know who was going to get a five-on-three [opportunity], and that was our first five-on-three in seven games.”
In spite of the opportunities, OSU couldn’t capitalize on the power play. The Buckeyes were 0-for-8 with the man advantage, Miami 0-for-7.
The RedHawks had a goal waved off during their first power play of the game, Nino Musitelli’s shot from the right point that may have caught the net and not the pipe, as it was officially called. While a goal to tie the game at that point may have changed the momentum, the RedHawks didn’t rally after the call.
“I thought we had chances on the power play early and we didn’t capitalize on them,” said Blasi. “Ohio State’s a good team; I don’t care what happened last weekend or whatever. They’re a good hockey team. You give them opportunities, and they’re going to make you pay for it.
“I know one thing. We probably didn’t deserve to win that game tonight and we didn’t.”
Dave Caruso made 24 saves in his tenth career shutout, his fourth of the season and second in five games. “The guys did a good job clearing out in front of the net and letting me see the puck a lot,” said Caruso. “That’s what I’m supposed to do, stop the puck, and they did their job.”
Both teams play again this weekend, with Miami (14-4-3, 11-3-1 CCHA) traveling to Notre Dame Jan. 13-14, and Ohio State (11-8-3, 7-6-1 CCHA) hosting Nebraska-Omaha the same dates.
For the Buckeyes, the win “helped us get our confidence going,” said Fritsche, “but we know it’s only one game and we have to keep working on it in practice and really get our power play goal. We definitely have our confidence up, but we really need to keep working.”