COLUMBUS, Ohio — The York Lions are coming off three consecutive wins in a preseason tournament on their home ice in Canada. Saturday, they were challenged by a group of young Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes defeated the Lions 9-3 in the OSU Ice Rink.
Ohio State was bolstered by a lineup that includes nine freshmen and 13 sophomores, but got their best contribution from senior forward and captain Zach Pelletier, who sat out last season due to injury. Pelletier led the Buckeyes in scoring with three goals.
“(Pelletier) chose to comeback for his fifth year; he didn’t really need to academically,” Ohio State coach John Markell said. “To have his leadership there and the work he put in rehab was nice payback for him.”
Ohio State opened the scoring just three minutes into the game. Freshman Cory Schneider skated down the right side of the ice and fired a slap shot from 40 feet out that was saved by York goaltender Darlo Di Renzo, but Pelletier stuffed the rebound into the back of the net.
York bounced back with a pair of goals just minutes apart.
Skating in his own zone, Buckeyes’ defenseman Nick Biondo turned the puck over to Lions’ forward Rob Labute, who passed off to teammate Scott Restoule. Restoule quickly dished the puck back to Labute, who beat Ohio State freshman goalie Cal Heeter. Less than two minutes later, Lions’ forward Nathaniel Brooks kept the loose puck in the zone and slipped a pass to senior Tyler Harrison, who deked Heeter and beat him low stick side.
“Early on, we were pretty good because we were competing at a high level,” York coach Kevin Forrest said. “We knew with this being their first time on the ice, we knew they would have a lot of excitement and a lot of jump, and our goal was to match that in the first period, and I think we did.”
Ohio State tied the game at two late in the first when Pelletier, skating alone on the penalty kill, stole a Di Renzo pass in front of the net and easily flipped the puck behind the diving goaltender.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” Pelletier said.
Ohio State broke the game open in the second period, netting six goals, and they had two more goals waved off in a 30 second span.
Forward Mathieu Picard gave Ohio State the lead less than two minutes into the period when he received a wraparound pass from John Albert. Pelletier scored the eventual game winner in the middle of the second with a shorthanded goal after he stole the puck at his own blue line. Patrick Schafer received the puck and found defenseman Matt Bartkowski in the low left slot. Bartkowski saucered a pass back to Pelletier to give him a hat trick.
Ohio State made the game 5-2 when Albert assisted on an Erick Belanger goal. York made the game 5-3 when freshman forward Adam Ross blazed past two Ohio State defenders down the right side of the ice and scored past sophomore goaltender Dustin Carlson.
Ohio State rounded out the period with three late period goals from Shane Sims, Cory Scheinder, and Corey Elkins.
“Noticeably, Ohio (State) had a lot more jump in the second period,” Forrest said. “They managed to capitalize on that early and our guys seemed to sag pretty quickly after that.”
Both teams changed goaltenders at the start of the third period. Buckeyes’ goalie Joseph Palmer and Lions’ goalie David Davenport both had respectable finishes. Davenport had 13 saves in 14 opportunities. The lone Ohio State mark in the third came off a Kyle Reed even strength goal.
Ohio State outshot York 49-22. The Lions were able to shut down Ohio State’s power plays as the Buckeyes only went 1/9 on power play opportunities.
Next weekend, Ohio State opens the regular season with a home-and-home with conference rival Miami. York starts their regular season at Queens.