COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Alaska Nanooks rallied from two goals down to tie the Ohio State Buckeyes 3-3 in Value City Arena on Saturday night. The Nanooks got a total of four out of six points for the weekend following their 4-1 win on Friday against the Buckeyes.
“I thought it was a pretty good college hockey game,” Alaska coach Dallas Ferguson said. “Going into the weekend, we knew that one of the things we needed to make sure of and for us has been a focus and knowing their team is defending the nets and tonight was one of those nights where two of their three goals were quick little plays down low.”
The Buckeyes won the postgame shootout 1-0 with Zac Dalpe scoring the shootout’s only goal for the additional conference point.
Saturday’s game marked the third time in four games that the Buckeyes lost a two-goal lead. They are also winless in their last five games.
“It is a character lead to hold it — a lead in college hockey,” Dalpe said. “You have character guys on the team who need to step up and they have been. I am not blaming anybody. It is something we need to work on. We need to erase that going into these last four games going into the playoffs.”
“I am not looking at blowing the leads or anything like that; that is the way the game went,” Ohio State coach John Markell said.
Nanooks’ goalie Scott Greenham stopped 31 of the Buckeyes’ 34 shots for the game. Buckeyes’ goalie Dustin Carlson was a perfect three-for-three in shootout and 27-of-30 for the game.
“It doesn’t count on my record, but it is a win,” Carlson said of winning the shootout.
Ohio State grabbed the 1-0 lead 5:29 into the first period when Kyle Reed scored his fourth of the season scoring on his own rebound after receiving a nice cross-crease pass from Taylor Stefishen. The Nanooks answered 33 seconds later when Ron Meyers scored on a loose puck that was sitting precariously on Carlson’s stick side.
Ohio State’s Zac Dalpe gave the Buckeyes the go-ahead goal on a power play 14:15 into the second on a one-timer from the high slot on a pass from Matt Bartkowski. The Buckeyes grabbed a 3-1 lead less than two minutes later on a goal by John Albert after receiving a nice centering pass from Hunter Bishop.
Alaska cut the Buckeyes’ lead in half with 2:36 remaining in the second when Dustin Sather scored on a nice deke that beat the glove of Carlson. The Buckeyes outshot the Nanooks 12-7 in the second.
Alaska tied the game on a power play with less than four minutes remaining. Carlo Finucci knocked in another loose puck left on Carlson’s stick side after Scott Enders’ shot from the blue line went off the pads of Carlson. Ohio State had a good chance to get the game-winner in the final 30 seconds of regulation as both Bartkowski and Dalpe had shots that Greenham had to make good saves on.
“If you spend any time with our team, you can kind of get the feel for who they are as people and they believe in each other and it is one of those things, hockey is weird,” Ferguson said of the Nanooks’ two-goal comeback. “You just got to keep staying with it and believe in it and that is one thing, they believe in each other.”
Ohio State had the best scoring chance in overtime when Sergio Somma fired a shot off the chest of Greenham from point-blank range.
The Nanooks have points in their last four games. They are in fifth place; two points behind Nebraska-Omaha for fourth. Ohio State leaps Notre Dame for ninth in the conference, two points behind Lake Superior State for eighth.
“The only thing that should matter is the drop of the puck on Friday and Saturday night,” Ferguson said. “I have never seen it with our team that we watch the standings and watch who is winning the other games.”
Following Friday’s game, Markell showed his disdain for his top two scoring lines for their effort. After Saturday’s game, Markell stated that he got the performance he was looking for from his top six forwards.
“We had better efforts from some guys,” Markell said. “We had some guys who are nicked up who played better and I thought we played our systems harder.”
“I agree with coach 100 percent; when the top two lines aren’t scoring, it is tough to win games,” Dalpe said. “I kind of held myself accountable as far as my line, too. I think we rebounded pretty good. I thought we were hungry.”
Ohio State travels to Western Michigan next week while Alaska hosts Lake Superior State.