COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State Buckeyes knew that a point was all they needed to clinch the No. 8 spot in the CCHA for home-ice in the first round of the conference playoffs, no matter what Lake Superior State did on Saturday evening. Ohio State got two conference points by tying the Miami RedHawks 0-0 and winning the postgame shootout 2-0.
Saturday’s game marked the first ever 0-0 game in Ohio State’s history. Miami has had three previous 0-0 games.
Miami won night one of the series 6-2 on Friday night. The Buckeyes responded Saturday by stopping the RedHawks’ prolific offense.
Miami finished the season No. 1 in the CCHA and will sit out next week while conference teams ranked Nos. 5-12 battle it out. If all teams with home-ice win, Miami would meet their in-state rivals in Oxford in two weeks.
“We are going to give the guys a few days off to rejuvenate a little bit,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said about the week off. “This team has been through a lot. Hard to believe the regular season is over; We are very proud of them. It is a heck of a regular season.”
Ohio State will meet defending CCHA regular season and tournament champion Notre Dame in the first round of the conference playoffs next weekend at the OSU Ice Rink. Ohio State lost in regulation and won a shootout in its two games at Notre Dame in October.
“It is important to get home-ice, but we have a good team coming in,” Boyd said. “They’re defending CCHA champions and they won’t go down without a fight. We have to prepare for that.”
“You get to sleep in your own bed and obviously it is your own rink but (we face) a formidable opponent in Notre Dame,” Ohio State coach John Markell said. “At this time of year, it is always tough.”
Sergio Somma got the eventual shootout winning goal for Ohio State. Peter Boyd added an insurance shootout goal in the third round to seal the victory for the Buckeyes.
“That was a pretty good college hockey game,” Blasi said. “I thought we did a pretty good job after the first period of limiting their scoring chances even though they got a few good ones in the second and third.”
Both goalies gained shutouts. RedHawks’ goaltender Connor Knapp had a 23-save effort for his fourth shutout of the season. Ohio State’s Dustin Carlson got his first shutout of the season with a sterling 38-save effort and he stopped both of the RedHawks’ shots in the shootout.
“Both teams made mistakes but their goaltenders were there for them,” Markell said. “Obviously they had more shots than we did but it is a learning process and we found a way to get a point and get it done in the shootout.”
Not only did the goalies stand on their heads, so did the defenses. Buckeyes’ defender Shane Sims blocked a total of eight RedHawks’ shots.
As the 65 minutes of hockey rolled on, both teams’ defenses grew stronger. Miami got their best opportunities in the first period, but were forced to take more shots from the point in the final two periods. The Buckeyes only had one shot in the final 15 minutes of regulation.
“I think we weathered the storm in the first (period),” Knapp said. “We had to come out hard. They had a lot to play for tonight and I did my part in the first period and the defense collected themselves and played well the rest of the way.”
“The defense really stepped up tonight,” Carlson said. “Our ‘D’ had a much better night than last night clearing out the front a lot. We saw last night a couple screened goals and tips. This time, we were clearing them out.”