OXFORD, Ohio — It must have seemed like dj vu for Ohio State (2-2-0, 0-2-0 CCHA) goaltender Joseph Palmer Sunday evening, who after giving up five goals Friday night against the Miami RedHawks (4-0-0, 2-0-0 CCHA), gave up five more goals Sunday, as the RedHawks skated away with a 5-1 victory and a series sweep at the Steve Cady Ice Arena.
“It has been a great beginning to the season,” Miami forward Tommy Wingels said. “All the guys are stepping up right now and making plays.”
OSU committed 14 penalties as well as committing carless mistakes throughout the game. With a Buckeye almost always in the penalty box it seemed, it was tough for the team to establish a rhythm on the ice.
“We just deflated ourselves with the penalties,” Ohio Sate Head Coach John Markell said. “Our best players had to kill penalties.”
Miami took advantage of OSU’s first mistake at 7:06 in the first period when Ohio State turned the puck over in its own zone. The ‘Hawks quickly capitalized as Wingels took the loose puck and notched his third goal of the season with a wrist-shot just over the left shoulder of Palmer.
The mistakes continued for Ohio State throughout the period. With just under six minutes left in the first period, the ‘Hawks cleared the puck down the length of the ice; assuming an icing call, the Buckeyes didn’t play the puck aggressively. The referee waived off the icing, while RedHawk forward Bill Loupee kept skating hard; when Palmer finally left the net to play the puck it took a weird hop off the boards right to Loupee who fired on the open net, giving Miami a 2-0 lead.
Although the Buckeyes had their fair share of chances during the first period, Miami goaltender Jeff Zatkoff continued his early season domination between the pipes, stopping all of OSU’s 13 shots in the period.
“We’ve done a great job defensively and that makes my job a lot easier,” Zatkoff said. “This was a huge series that we knew we had to win.”
In Miami’s four games so far, Zatkoff has let up just one goal in each game this season.
“He will be the first one to tell you that everyone in front of him is playing well right now,” Blasi said. “We’re going into every game focused on playing disciplined hockey.”
Coming out for the second period, the RedHawks didn’t lose any momentum, scoring two more times in the period. At 9:33 in the second, Miami forward Justin Mercier spun around an OSU defenseman and fired a wrist shot past Palmer to put the RedHawks up 3-0.
Just two minutes later, with OSU on the power play, the Buckeyes finally got on the scoreboard with a power play goal at 11:25. OSU’s Tommy Goebel blasted a shot right past Zatkoff, to cut the Miami lead to two goals. OSU’s goal was the first goal given up by Miami’s penalty killing unit on the season, snapping a streak of 19 straight penalties killed.
However, the RedHawks wasted no time regaining their three-goal lead. With the ‘Hawks on the power play, Alec Martinez took a pass from Mitch Ganzak and found the back of the net with his second goal of the season, reopening a three-goal Miami lead.
It looked like Miami would open up an even bigger lead, after three OSU penalties within two minutes of each other game the RedHawks an extended 5-3 advantage, but failed to score with the two-man advantage.
“There are so many ups and downs in this game and their goaltender just made some great saves,” Blasi said. “This was one of those games you battled through the adversity.”
Alec Martinez put in Miami’s fourth goal of the night at 13:49 while the RedHawks were on the power play, putting the puck right by Palmer from the point. A morally drained Buckeye team skated out for the third period and didn’t present much of a comeback effort, as Miami extended its lead to four goals at 10:21 as Wingels found himself on the breakaway, knocked in his second goal of the night.
“We’re not happy with how we played tonight,” Markell said. “These kids are in a learning mode right now, and you have to learn in order to win and be strong.”
With this win, Miami takes the all-time record in CCHA games over the Buckeyes leading the series 47-46-8. Miami will welcome Nebraska-Omaha to Steve Cady Ice Arena next weekend, while Ohio State will trek up north to take on Minnesota.
“It doesn’t get any easier for us,” Markell said. “These kids, for them to be successful have, we’ve got to get better.”