COLUMBUS, Ohio — With 13 freshmen in the game, the Ohio State Buckeyes scored two early and held on to outlast the U.S. National Under-18 Team, 3-2, in exhibition play.
Senior John Dingle, freshman Sergio Somma and junior Nick Biondo had the OSU goals with freshman netminder Dustin Carlson stopping 23 shots. Jeremy Morin and Ryan Bourque had the U-18 goals, with goaltender Joe Cannata making 32 saves on 35 shots.
“It was a good win for us,” said OSU head coach John Markell. “Obviously, we can learn from it. We made some mistakes and we’ve got to pick it up here next weekend.”
The Buckeyes led the U-18 team after one on goals by Dingle and Somma. At 2:02, Dingle took a center pass from behind the net at the left post and tucked it in behind goaltender Cannata for the first goal of the stanza, and at 9:15, Somma scored from the bottom of the right circle on a five-on-three Buckeye power play.
Morin brought the U-18 team to within one midway through the second, a goal that was the end result of some good cycling down low in the OSU end. Jordan Schroeder attempted a centering pass to Morin from the right circle, but the pass was intercepted by a Buckeye in front of the net. Morin then reclaimed the puck and shot from point-blank range, nicking a pipe and making it 2-1 after two.
In the third period, the most even of the game, the teams exchanged nearly identical highlight-reel goals just over a minute apart with less than four to go in the contest. The first was Biondo’s goal at 16:59, a power-play goal from the bottom of the right circle that hit a small opening in the upper right corner of the net.
Bourque, who’ll play his college hockey at the University of New Hampshire, answered at 18:03 with a two-man U-18 advantage after Cannata was pulled on the power play. Bourque’s rocket was also from the bottom of the right circle and found an even smaller opening above Carlson’s left shoulder to bring the final score to 3-2.
“After the first period the guys played a little bit better in the second, and I thought they played pretty well in the third period,” said Team USA head coach John Hynes. “We just talked about different things that we needed to do well, and I thought the players had a pretty strong desire in the third period to get back and get their legs and win the game.”
Hynes said that it was typical for Cannata, an 18-year-old who has committed to Merrimack College, to shake off early goals and take control of a game. After giving up those two first-period goals, Cannata shut out the Buckeyes for another 37 minutes.
“He’s usually composed in there,” said Hynes, “and I think he manages the game pretty well, you know, when to take whistles and play the puck. He’s calm under pressure.”
Markell said that getting past the Developmental Team was no given.
“They might have been a little flat [in the first],” said Markell. “They hung around and that’s exactly what happens when you let good hockey players hang around and they start doing things to find their legs, they can damage.”
The contest was an opportunity for the Buckeyes to give several players ice time and fine-tune before next week’s home series against No. 10 Michigan State.
“I thought there were points where we did very well — pockets — but I don’t think we had the consistency,” said Markell. “I needed to get those guys games and I didn’t need them to go in under duress. The playoff run starts for us now. We’ll take the pluses out of it and keep moving forward.”