COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State goaltender Cal Heeter may be relatively unknown in the college hockey world; his name, however, will be remembered by the third ranked Denver Pioneers for a while.
A year after the Buckeyes’ backup goaltender went into Denver to pull out his first career victory, the sophomore posted his first ever shutout leading the Buckeyes to a 4-0 win over the Pioneers in Nationwide Arena Friday night.
The shutout gives the Buckeyes their first win of the season as they improved to 1-3. Denver gets their second consecutive split and are now 2-2.
Heeter’s stopped all 39 shots he faced. His counterpart, Adam Murray, had 22 saves and allowed three of the four Ohio State goals. This was Heeter’s fifth career start. Both Murray and Heeter replaced Thursday’s goalies of Marc Cheverie for Denver and Dustin Carlson for Ohio State. Cheverie posted a 2-0 shutout over the Buckeyes in the series opener.
I thought that Adam played well, Denver coach George Gwozdecky said. He made an outstanding save early in the game for us. For him, it was an unfortunate bounce on their first goal. For a team like Ohio State that has been struggling of late, this is the best thing that could have happened. No matter how you get it, it goes in and it gives you the lead and you can build on it.
Whenever a goalie gets a shutout, they have to give complete credit to their defensemen and forwards, Heeter said. All night long, our defense was blocking shots.
He deserves to play and he proved it tonight, Ohio State coach John Markell said. He beat them last year. These exhibition games and non-conference games are important but you have to see what you got. The team played hard both in front of Dusty (Carlson) and Cal, so Cal was a good recipient of goals and Dusty was not.
Ohio State started the game on the wrong foot when Peter Boyd was given a five minute major for hitting from behind and a game misconduct just 34 seconds into the game.
Denver had their chances during the first few minutes of the power play, however the best scoring chance during the Pioneers man-advantage went to Ohio State when forward John Albert stole the puck and fed fellow Buckeyes forward Zac Dalpe who was stoned by Murray. The Pioneers’ power play was negated three minutes in on a too many men on the ice penalty.
Not being able to take advantage of that five minute major really, certainly was not a good way of developing momentum, Gwozdecky said.
As soon as we took the five minutes, I was a little worried, Heeter said. I know Denver has a good power play. Again and again our defensemen and forwards did a great job on the penalty kill.
Ohio State opened scoring 6:53 into the first when Taylor Stefishen’s centering pass deflected off a Pioneers defenseman’s skate and into the net. Ohio State took a 2-0 lead less than eight minutes later when Dalpe scored Ohio State’s second power-play goal of the season on a nice pass from Sergio Somma. Despite trailing 2-0 through one period, the Pioneers outshot Ohio State 12-8 in the opening stanza.
Ohio State notched a shorthanded goal 10:25 into the second as forwards Albert and Somma led a 2-on-2 break out. As Albert ran out of room with the puck, he made a nice pass behind him to trailing defenseman Shane Sims who one-timed the puck past the glove of Murray. This was the exclamation point to a bad night on the power play for the Pioneers as they went 0-5.
We were stopping a good power play, Markell said. It is all about blocking shots and being in position to sacrifice. I thought our movement was a lot better.
Ohio State received their second game misconduct penalty of the game when defenseman Matt Bartkowski knocked the helmet off an opposing player after the whistle 12:40 into the second period.
Ohio State’s C.J. Severyn added an empty netter with 3:26 remaining in the third for Ohio State’s final goal.
I know we created a lot of chances throughout the game, Gwozdecky said.
Whether it was a combination of Heeter playing well or us not playing well, there were a number of opportunities and I trying to figure out how can you not finish around the net.
This feels like a huge monkey off everyone’s back, Somma said. It felt like we were in a position to win the game last night and the pucks didn’t go in. Tonight we got the pucks off and we got the bounces.