COLUMBUS, OH — For the fourth straight game, Ohio State played from behind and came back, tying No. 9 Miami and extending the Buckeye unbeaten streak to six games.
“That’s a great comeback,” said junior OSU Tommy Goebel, who scored the second-period goal that led to the Buckeye rally. “I’m still disappointed that we didn’t get the win. I thought we had enough chances to get the win, but any time you can come back against a team like that, it helps. Points are so close in the league.”
Matt Waddell had the game-tying goal at 10:04 in the third and defenseman Sean Collins had two assists in the effort. For the RedHawks, Mitch Ganzak had his first career two-goal game, and Charlie Effinger made 35 saves as the Bucks outshot the ‘Hawks 39-27.
“We were down 3-1, and we battled back,” said OSU head coach John Markell. “I didn’t think we deserved to be down 3-1, but we were. They took care of their chances and we didn’t. That’s the way it is.”
The game was the fourth between the intrastate rivals so far this year, including three regular-season matches and the title game of the Ohio Hockey Classic at Nationwide Arena in December. Given the number of times these teams meet and the familiarity between the programs, that the season series is tied 1-1-2 surprises no one.
“You play four or five times a year for the last seven years…it’s fun,” said Miami head coach Enrico Blasi. “We have a lot of respect for Ohio State. We enjoy preparing for games like this. This is what college athletics are all about.”
Effinger, who gave the fans a brief scary moment in the third when he fell backward and knocked his head on the ice, echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“I think that the rivalry that we have with Ohio State is what college hockey is all about. I think I know two-thirds of their team by first name at this point [because] we’ve played them so many times. It’s always fun. You know it’s always going to be a good game. You can throw rankings, you can throw all of that out the door; when we play Ohio State, we know that both teams are going to come to play.”
The RedHawks jumped out to a 3-1 lead after one in spite of being outshot by OSU 17-7 in the opening stanza. Nino Musitelli netted his fifth goal of the season at 5:50 after Ray Eichenlaub trapped an OSU clearing attempt and passed up to Justin Mercier, whose shot was blocked by Buckeye netminder Joseph Palmer. Musitelli caught the rebound for the early 1-0 lead.
At 7:52, Andrew Schembri scored OSU’s only first-period goal when he picked up his own rebound on a feed from John Dingle, but less than a minute later the RedHawks regained the lead with Ganzak’s first goal of the game, a power-play rocket from near the blue line that got by everyone in the slot and beat Palmer clean.
Brian Kaufman gave Miami another goal at 16:18 on a breakaway give-and-go with Nathan Davis, making the score 3-1 after one.
It was Goebel’s goal at 2:46 that seemed to turn the tide for the Buckeyes and give them a slight momentum edge for the remainder of the game. With everyone mislead into looking in the completely opposite direction, Goebel found an opportunity from the left of the cage.
“I tried to make a pass to [Tom] Fritsche on the back door and hit a guy’s skate. It came back to me, and I just walked out and he [Effinger] was cheating a little bit so I went five-hole on him. I hit the guy’s skate and I think they thought it went that way. I circled back and thought, there’s nobody here.”
Effinger said that goals like that are simply the result of hard work. “He walked out of the corner and just made a nice play and beat me five-hole. He just went to the net hard with the puck and good things worked out for him. He’s a good player.”
Ganzak scored his second goal of the game also near the blue line, high on the right point at 6:24 to put the RedHawks ahead by two again, but Mathieu Beadoin’s single-minded shorthanded effort cut that lead again at 15:17. Beaudoin took the puck end-to-end, flying down the right wing with Waddell left, wound up, and let it fly.
“I head my head down because the guy behind me was trying to hook me, and the defenseman was going down, so I thought, okay, I’ll just go as far as I can,” said Beaudoin. “I didn’t even look. I just shot it as hard as I could.”
“He ripped that one upstairs,” said Markell. “He’s a senior who’s in his last half. He’s excited. His line’s exciting to watch and they can play at both ends. He’s a proud kid. He’s playing for the crest in front of his sweater. He’s not playing for himself. He wants to lead this team to where he thinks it should be. It’s nice to see.”
The third period was fast and penalty-free, with only Waddell’s goal at 10:04 and Effinger’s scare at 12:45 to stop the clock. Waddell took a pass at the right point from Jason DeSantis and found the back of the net short side to send the game into overtime. Effinger went down when he was hit accidentally by a RedHawk-and-Buckeye combination on a potential OSU scoring opportunity close to the net.
Miami went 1-for-3 on the power play, OSU 0-for-4. Palmer had 23 saves in his fourth tie of the season.
Both coaches said they were happy with the outcome of the game.
“Any time you’re on the road and you get a point, I think that’s a positive sign,” said Blasi. “I thought Ohio State controlled the play for some stretches. We did a good job D-zone at times. I thought this guy beside me [Effinger] played pretty good and stopped some pucks.”
Said Markell, “I thought we did what was necessary to get a point. We had to stress the transition, we had to stress that we had to continue to get opportunities against that hockey club without giving up opportunities, so we had to play a smart hockey game and I thought our guys did.”
The teams meet again for the fifth and final time during the regular season Sunday in Oxford at 4:35 p.m., and neither side anticipates any surprises.
“For the most part, you’ve got to be ready to play again, because it’s probably going to be the same thing you saw tonight,” said Blasi. “At times it’s going to be methodical because no team wants to give up the chance, and at times it will get wide open, everybody going free-for-all. That’s the way the games are against two teams that play well against each other.”
“It’s a battle every time we play them,” said Goebel. “I love it. They’re a great team and I think we’re getting there.”