COLUMBUS, Ohio — Sometimes, when you need to get something done, you have to put your back into it. Sometimes, when you need to score a game-winning goal, you need to put someone else’s back into it.
At 7:18 in the third, Buckeye senior Mathieu Beaudoin banked the puck into the Wildcat net off the backside of Northern Michigan goaltender Bill Zaniboni to give Ohio State a 3-2 lead that held until the end.
“I saw he was out of the net,” said Beaudoin, “and I just [thought] if it didn’t hit him, it was going to go to one of our guys in front. It hit his back and rolled in pretty slow, but it went in.”
The goal was the second OSU power-play tally of the night, and that, said NMU head coach Walt Kyle, was the key ingredient to the Buckeye win — and the Wildcat loss.
“If it’s 2-2 going into the third, you’ve got to find a way to win that,” said Kyle. “We had a couple of power-play opportunities, they scored on their power play. That was the difference in the game tonight.”
The Buckeyes took a one-goal lead out of the first period on Dominic Maiani’s power-play one-timer from the top of the left circle at 12:21, and that’s the last goal that Maiani, a junior, will score this season. He went down funny on a hit in the third and tore his right anterior cruciate ligament.
The loss is a big one for the Buckeyes; Maiani centered the top line with Tom Fritsche and Tommy Goebel, was the fourth-leading scorer for OSU entering tonight’s contest, and is a key face-off man. ” It’s not like a bruise or the possibility to come back,” said Buckeye head coach John Markell. “It’s discouraging.”
The game was tied at 2-2 at the end of two on Wildcat goals by Andrew Sarauer and Matt Siddall and Bryce Anderson’s marker for the Buckeyes. At 4:55 with traffic around the OSU net, Nick Sirota took the puck from right to left behind the Buckeye cage and shot, hitting netminder Joseph Palmer in the chest, but Sarauer picked up the rebound in front of the crease and popped it upstairs to tie the game, 1-1.
At 9:06, Rob Lehtinen fed Siddall, who broke in on the left wing, paused, and ripped one high over Palmer’s glove for the only Wildcat lead of the night.
NMU goaltender Bill Zaniboni kept that lead until near the end of the period almost single-handedly, as the Buckeyes outshot the Wildcats 20-6 in the middle stanza.
His most spectacular save of the game came at 14:22, when he stoned Beaudoin from point-blank range, after Anderson scooted the puck around Zach Tarkir while falling down.
Anderson, however, got the better of Zaniboni at 18:54 when he wrapped the puck around the NMU net and tucked it in between the senior goaltender’s legs to tie the score again. Last week, Markell benched Anderson in the first period of OSU’s 6-2 loss to Ferris State to send the left winger a message.
“There was just a little added urgency,” said Anderson. “Obviously, coming down the pipe here in my last year. I think, as a team, we refocused a lot in practice. I was fortunate enough to be in the right situation at the right time to score a goal for us.”
Said Markell, “I thought Bryce Anderson had a good game, bringing things to the net.”
Beaudoin’s power-play goal, his second with the man advantage this season, capped the game.
“I thought that both of their last two goals were bad,” said Kyle. “Both were from behind the net. We have to have those. We came back out in the third…and it looked like a fairly even period. They scored on a power play in the third, really, from behind the net.
“This year we’ve found ways to lose game not intentional . . . it’s such a close league right now and we don’t score enough to give ourselves much margin of error and I think we’re probably very similar to a lot of teams.”
The Buckeyes finished the night 2-for-9 on the power play while holding the Wildcats 0-for-5. Palmer made 18 saves on 20 shots for his 11th win of the season. Zaniboni stopped 35 of 38.
The teams meet again Saturday night at 8:05 p.m. in the Schott. It will be the fourth and final game of their regular-season series, which Ohio State leads 2-1.