COLUMBUS, Ohio — On goals from five different seniors, the Ohio State Buckeyes beat the Miami RedHawks, 5-3, to capture the third annual Ohio Hockey Classic in Nationwide Arena.
The Buckeyes trailed 2-0 late in the first period when Kenny Bernard scored at 19:09, cutting the Miami lead in half and providing the momentum OSU needed to take the lead in the second and maintain for the win.
“They’re energy in the second, third — when they scored that late goal in the first, their energy really changed and they took over the game,” said Miami head coach Enrico Blasi. “For two periods they deserved to win the game. I think that was the difference.”
After Bernard scored late in the first, the second belonged to Ohio State, with the Buckeyes scoring two goals to take the lead and outshooting the RedHawks 11-9.
“I thought we were pretty consistent with our pressure in the second period,” said OSU head coach John Markell. “It would have been nice to get a few more goals ahead but we weren’t. I wasn’t particularly pleased with our power play right at the end, at a critical juncture in the game.”
Although there were only five minor penalties in the game, the last infraction — a slashing call on Miami’s Mitch Ganzak at 16:08 in the third — gave the Buckeyes a key man advantage when they were up 4-2. But killing the late penalty actually gave Miami a bounce, and Justin Mercier scored at 18:47 to make it a 4-3 game.
“The last fifteen minutes, I thought they had it except for the one goal we scored,” said Markell. “I think we were fortunate to be able to get in there after that first period and get things addressed to what we needed to do in order to be more effective on the ice. I thought the guys did a good job of adjusting.”
The RedHawks held a 2-0 lead after the first 15 minutes on goals by Marty Guerin and Matt Christie.
Guerin scored his seventh goal of the season 10:36, assisted by Jarod Palmer who won the battle in the right corner to center to Guerin.
Christie scored at 14:41 when he, Buckeyes Johann Kroll and Joseph Palmer, and the puck all wound up in the back of the net. With Kroll riding the crashing Christie, the RedHawk managed to squib the puck across the line before the players crossed the line to give Miami the two-goal lead.
Bernard’s goal at 19:09 was made possible by a good second effort by the entire Buckeye shift. Bernard threw the puck out from the right corner for anyone who might be there, but Kevin Roeder poked it back toward the blue line. As OSU kept it in, the puck went to Nathan Davis who tried to clear from the left corner, but the puck hit Bryce Anderson’s skate and went to Bernard, who scored through traffic to cut the lead to one.
At 1:39 in the second, Tyson Strachan, who was heading off for a shift change, found himself with the puck and an open shooting lane to tie the game.
Then at 16:37, Sean Collins was the recipient of a sweet Tom Fritsche set-up for the second night in a row, giving OSU a 3-2 lead. Fritsche entered the Miami zone with two RedHawks back and waited for Collins to catch up. Collins took the centering pass and switched from back- to forehand before beating Miami goaltender Charlie Effinger long from left of the crease.
“I don’t know what happened,” joked Collins. “I think I passed out for a second. I don’t remember. That’s exactly what it was; he put it right on my stick. I figured I was right there [and] I might as well put it in.”
At 12:09 in the third, Dominic Maiani mugged a RedHawk forward at the OSU blue line to start the play that led to Matt Waddell’s pick-up of his own rebound to give the Buckeyes a 4-2 lead. In spite of Mercier’s goal at 18:47, that fourth OSU tally was the proverbial last straw for the RedHawks.
“They scored the fourth goal,” said Blasi. “I think we were pressing a little bit too much with eight or nine minutes left in the game. It’s one of those situations…when you’re down by a goal and you’re playing good teams, you really have to stick to your plan and can’t start doing things that are not there. I thought we did that tonight and they capitalized. We turned the puck over and they made us pay.”
Mathieu Beaudoin added an empty-netter that he had to work for at 19:56 to bring the final score to 5-3.
Joseph Palmer finished the game with 23 saves on 26 shots for his seventh win of the season. Charlie Effinger made 26 stops on the 30 shots he faced. OSU was 0-for-3 on the power play, Miami 0-for-2.
Both teams return to CCHA regular-season action next weekend, and both teams are at home. Miami (15-6-1, 10-3-1 CCHA) hosts Michigan State Jan. 5-6, while Ohio State (7-9-4, 5-6-3 CCHA) hosts Alaska Jan. 5 and 7.
“Our goal is to do whatever is necessary to get it done here in January, to take care of February and March,” said Markell. “We can take a lot of good things out of these games this weekend and keep moving forward. We got through a critical weekend against good teams, coming back off a long break, and can move into the new year here a spirited bunch.”