COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Alaska Nanooks used solid goaltending and timely scoring en route to their 4-1 win over the Ohio State Buckeyes on Friday night.
Ohio State is now winless in their last four games and their chances of earning home-ice-advantage in the CCHA playoffs are in serious jeopardy as they are now No. 10 in conference standings. Heading into last Friday’s two game series against Nebraska-Omaha, Ohio State was just two points out of fourth in the CCHA standings. Now they are seven points out of fourth and four points out of eighth.
I think that fourth place is pretty tough but that was exactly what I put on the board, ‘where do you want to travel to?’ Ohio State coach John Markell said. Tomorrow night, we still have the opportunities to get points here. But if we don’t have an effort better than what we had tonight — I’ll say it, it wasn’t what we have been getting. We were flat (tonight).
I wouldn’t say panic, more like desperation, that is what we got to have is emotional desperation Ohio State alternate captain Sergio Somma said. Panic can be bad but desperation can be positive. We need some points this weekend.
The Nanooks are keeping their chances alive for first round bye in the playoffs.
They are tied with Nebraska-Omaha for fourth place.
Freshman Andy Taranto notched the Nanooks’ first hat trick since Dec. 8 2006 when Curtis Fraser had three goals against the Bowling Green Falcons. Taranto is now tied for being the leading freshman goal scorer in the CCHA with goal nos. 10-12 for the season.
Andy (Taranto) played well, he was hard on pucks, he was finishing checks, and those are things you need to do to be successful, Alaska head coach Dallas Ferguson said.
Buckeyes’ goalie Cal Heeter had a pedestrian effort stopping 17-of-20 Nanooks’ shots but did make a highlight reel save on Dion Knelsen on a breakaway seven minutes into the second. Scott Greenham stopped all but one of Ohio State’s 34 shots.
Ohio State was taking shots from everywhere, Greenham said. I thought our defense in particular did a great job boxing out in front of the net making sure that their guys didn’t get to the rebounds I left. There wasn’t that many grade-A chances, but when there was, our guys was there to help me out.
Alaska got its first goal 14:51 into the first period when Nanooks’ forward Dustin Sather stole the puck from Buckeyes’ defenseman Matt Bartkowski and passed to Taranto whose shot beat the glove of Heeter. The Buckeyes answered when they also took advantage of a turnover 1:04 later as Cory Schneider scored as he stole the puck from Nanooks’ defenseman Joe Sova and snuck the puck through the five hole of Greenham.
The Nanooks took control of the game in the second period. Ohio State’s Chris Reed was called for tripping early in the second. On the ensuing power play, Alaska got the go-ahead goal 4:15 into the second period as Taranto scored his second of the game as he slapped a shot past Heeter on a well placed one-timed pass from Aaron Gens. Brian Molle gave Alaska a two goal lead as he scored from the high slot at the end of another Reed penalty. Ohio State outshot Alaska 11-6 in the second.
I think it starts with effort, Markell said about the lack of Buckeyes’ scoring chances in the first two periods. (Alaska) scored that second goal, we just went flat. I thought Alaska played a good game, their goalie played a good game and it looked like he saw all his pucks.
Ohio State played a solid third period outshooting the Nanooks 14-5 for the stanza. Alaska scored the only goal of the period when Taranto knocked the puck into Ohio State’s vacated net in the game’s final minute. Center Dion Knelsen made a very unselfish move to pass the puck to Taranto as he trailed Knelsen down the right wing.
It was very unselfish, Taranto said about Knelsen’s assist. We have great leadership will all of our guys. They really help me out. They help me with telling me when to chip pucks in and when to chip pucks out. I think those guys help me out; guys like (Captain Derek) Klassen.
There were a lot of bounces out there, Ferguson said. It was kind of weird how the game started. One of those bounces don’t go the right way, it could have changed the game.
Ohio State’s triple-A line of Zac Dalpe, Peter Boyd, and Somma were held pointless for the first time since Dec. 11 when the Buckeyes were shut out by the Miami RedHawks. The defensive pairing of Sova and Gens did an outstanding job of shutting down the Buckeyes’ top line.
It is tough on the road because you don’t get last change and sometimes your guys get out there against the matchups, Ferguson said. I credit our whole defensive core just being aware when those guys are on the ice. They can create some offense and when you give them time and space, they’re going to (score).
I need my top two lines to be threats, Markell said.