COLUMBUS, Ohio — A one-goal game between the Buckeyes and RedHawks? Who knew?
Miami beat Ohio State, 2-1, taking three points from the Buckeyes in this weekend’s home-and-home series and capping the regular-season, four-game set with a 2-0-2 record.
It was actually the fifth game between the two teams in 45 days, dating back to their first home-and-home series in early December and including the title game of the Ohio Hockey Classic Dec. 30, which the Buckeyes won.
“It was a hard-fought battle both ways,” said Miami head coach Enrico Blasi. “I looked at their bench, I looked at our bench, and nobody had anything left.
“It’s what Ohio State-Miami has become over the last five years. It’s gut-wrenching for both sides, but it brings the best out of both teams. It’s just a fun atmosphere.”
Miami captain Ryan Jones and Ohio State’s Tommy Goebel each had first-period goals a few minutes apart, and after a scoreless middle frame, Ray Eichenlaub opened the third with his game-winning marker at 1:38. It was Eichenlaub’s third point of the weekend, after he earned two helpers in Friday’s 4-4 tie in Columbus.
This fifth game of the year was rougher than any of the other four, and certainly chippier than Friday’s contest, the third period of which saw no penalties assessed. In the last period of this game, the Buckeyes had four power plays to none for the RedHawks, but were unable to generate much in the way of opportunities.
“We did a good job keeping them to the outside,” said Miami goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, who made 26 saves in his 10th win of the season. “They got the majority of their shots on the power play, but I thought our kill did a great job tonight. All around, I don’t think we gave them many chances.”
Jones’ 17th goal of the season gave the ‘Hawks the early lead at 2:57 in the first on a scrambled play in front of the OSU net. Nathan Davis took the puck into the zone and was knocked off the play by OSU’s Matt McIlvane. The puck came to Dane Hetland — playing his first shift since Nov. 25 — who took two big whacks at it, one of which rebounded to Jones. Jones tucked the puck in behind Buckeye goaltender Joseph Palmer near the left post for the 1-0 advantage.
As has been typical in this series, the lead didn’t last long. The only Buckeye goal was a direct result of a bad bounce in front of the Miami net. RedHawk Marty Guerin gloved down a pass from the corner high in the slot but the puck wound up on Tommy Goebel’s tape in the right circle. Goebel fired and beat Zatkoff clean for his eighth of the season at 5:06.
Eichenlaub’s game-winner was the end result of an odd-man rush, a clean shot from the right circle at 1:38 in the third. The sophomore defenseman was modest about his fourth goal of the year.
“It’s just another weekend,” said Eichenlaub. “The players had a lot to do about it. Our team was really connecting this weekend, so do what I can to help out the team this weekend.”
Moments before Eichenlaub’s goal, the Buckeyes had an odd-man rush of their own at the other end, with Bryce Anderson shooting from the right circle and catching at least the inside of the right post. It was the rush the other way that led to the Miami game-winner, and OSU head coach John Markell was not happy that Anderson’s shot was not reviewed by the officials.
“Why do we have video equipment? It puts everybody at ease,” said Markell. “Just walk in the booth and look at the video. That’s all you have to do.”
Zatkoff said he couldn’t tell whether the puck was in or not. “I thought it hit the right post and bounced back out. That’s as far as I know.”
Markell was quick to point out that while a timely goal to begin the third period would have helped, the non-call wasn’t the reason the Buckeyes lost. “Our power play in the third period let us down. We had a number of opportunities. I thought we were a little bit off in the first period for whatever reason. Zatkoff stood tall, but we’ve got to score those goals, especially this time of year.”
The Buckeyes finished the game 0-for-6 on the power play, while the RedHawks were 0-for-4. Palmer had 30 saves in the loss.
The loss snapped Ohio State’s six-game unbeaten streak.
Next weekend, the Buckeyes (9-10-5, 7-7-4 CCHA) travel to Sault Ste. Marie to face Lake Superior State, while the RedHawks (18-8-2, 13-5-2 CCHA) head to South Bend to battle for first place with league-leading Notre Dame.