COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State’s two-goal second period gave the unranked Buckeyes the lead and eventual come-from-behind 4-2 win over the No. 15 Harvard Crimson, as well as a chance to defend their 2006 Ohio Hockey Classic title in a rematch of last year’s game against the No. 1 Miami RedHawks.
Four different Buckeyes scored and freshman goaltender Dustin Carlson earned his first career win in his second start of the year, making 35 saves as Harvard outshot OSU 37-31.
“I love winning,” said Carlson. “That felt good.”
Carlson was in for the absent sophomore Joseph Palmer, the Buckeyes’ starter who is playing with Team USA in the IIHF World Championship tournament in Europe. It was the first time Carlson saw action since his 5-2 loss against Nebraska-Omaha Nov. 9.
“I want to congratulate him on the first win under these circumstances,” said OSU head coach John Markell. “Kids are looking for chances to play and there it was. What a way to start.”
The game turned on three goals within 1:30 at the end of the first and the start of the second. Harvard was up 1-0 on Michael Biega’s goal at 4:32 in the first when Kyle Reed scored at 19:06 to make it 1-1. With 2.7 seconds left in the first, however, Brian McCafferty picked up Doug Rogers’ rebound to give the Crimson a 2-1 lead after one.
However, Jason DeSantis scored the first of OSU’s three unanswered goals 33 seconds into the second period, and the Buckeyes never looked back.
“Surprisingly, we actually felt pretty good about ourselves,” said Buckeyes’ senior Tom Fritsche, whose assist on DeSantis’ goal was his 100th career point. “We thought we played well. The [McCafferty] goal was just a bad bounce. I was out there, I thought he [Carlson] had it and I just kind of let up on the play a little bit. That goal should have killed us but it really didn’t. We stayed pretty positive in the locker room and came out pretty strong in the second.”
On Biega’s goal, Jimmy Fraser took the initial shot that hit Carlson’s leg. Reed’s goal for OSU was a pick-up of Corey Toy’s attempt from the point, and McCafferty’s goal was the end result of an odd-man rush. McCafferty, Rogers and Jon Pelle skated in on the odd-man rush, and each had a shot at Carlson. Pelle shot first from the left wing, hitting Carlson’s glove. Rogers tried for that rebound but Carlson blocked it, giving up the puck to McCafferty at right wing. The third time was the charm and Harvard led 2-1 after one.
“Quite honestly in the first period I didn’t feel that we played very well at all so we were fortunate and I let our guys know that,” said Harvard head coach Ted Donato. “We realized that we needed to play a lot better than we did in the first, and we just made a lot of mistakes out there.
“We wanted to make the goalie see a lot of pucks. He hasn’t had a lot of game experience to this point. We put ourselves behind the eight-ball early by taking four penalties in the first period, so we weren’t able to really get a forecheck established, but to be perfectly honest with you there weren’t many things that we did that were even average.”
DeSantis’ goal was a blast from the top of the slot that ricocheted off one or more Harvard defensemen before somehow sliding underneath Crimson goaltender Kyle Richter to tie the game. At 7:40, freshman Shane Sims registered his first career goal when he capitalized on John Albert’s initial shot to give Ohio State the lead, and Matt McIlvane added an insurance marker on a Buckeyes’ power play at 18:18 in the third.
“They play a pro-style game,” said Markell of Harvard. “They get pucks on net and they get good goaltending, and we did a good job. I credit the kids. It was just a good hockey game. I like the way [we] played and it was a good test.”
This is just the sixth win of the season for Ohio State, and their third from behind. Carlson said that while the team may have been positive down 2-1 after the first, he was not as happy.
“The first goal, I directed it right where I thought it needed to be and their guy seemed to be in the right place at the right time, and the second goal I just mishandled it with my glove. That kind of got to me and I was a little upset.
“In between the first and the second, I just decided that I really needed to pick it up, that that wasn’t going to cut it, especially if I wanted to play at this level.”
This was also just the fourth game of the season in which the struggling Buckeyes’ offense scored more than three goals, and they did so against one of the best goaltenders in the country at midseason. Coming into the contest, Ohio State’s offense was the 48th best in the nation, averaging just 2.25 goals per game, while Kyle Richter’s goals-against average was 1.85, eighth-best in the country.
“I think we got to the net,” said Fritsche. “Some of the goals we were pounding away down there and McIlvane’s goal was a rebound. We were just throwing the puck at the net and getting to the net because we knew he’s a pretty good goalie. He’s got great numbers. We knew we had to get traffic in front and keep pounding on the rebounds and that’s what we did.”
The Buckeyes (6-13-2) advance to the 8:05 p.m. championship game against in-state rival Miami Sunday, while the Crimson (6-5-2) will play St. Cloud State in Sunday’s consolation game at 5:05 p.m.