COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State Buckeyes’ postseason continues for another weekend, as they defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 8-2, on Saturday evening in game two of the best-of-three opening round of the CCHA Playoffs.
The Buckeyes await results from other opening round games, but the No. 1 seed Miami RedHawks appear as the likely opponent next weekend for Ohio State in the CCHA Quarterfinals.
“I don’t think it was an 8-2 game, it didn’t feel like that coaching it,” Ohio State coach John Markell said. “Our goaltending came up big, and that was the difference in the game.”
“It has been like that all season long,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said about his team’s offensive production. “We have got guys here who have a history of scoring in the past and it is just an inability to score on the power play.”
At times, Saturday’s game got chippy. Many scrums took place after the whistle was blown. Notre Dame spent 13 minutes of the second period on the power play, but Ohio State still outscored the Irish 2-1 in the game’s middle frame.
“If you are going to call, call them both,” Markell said.
Notre Dame finished a season of high hopes with a 13-17-6 record and will not participate in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
“This is the poorest season I have had, even our first season when we started together five years ago,” Jackson said. “You can point fingers and make excuses in a lot of different ways, but the buck stops here. I have to make some serious decisions on how we move forward. But it is going to have to be a recuperation of our values as a program and our discipline and a lot of things are going to have to change, and that may include some personnel.”
Ohio State goalie Dustin Carlson was outstanding, stopping 47-of-49. Notre Dame’s Mike Johnson played the first period through a knee injury he suffered in Friday night’s game. Johnson was unable to remain in the game, as he allowed four first period goals on just nine shots faced. Johnson was replaced by senior Tom O’Brien, who stopped 12-of-16.
“I didn’t even know if he was going to start,” Jackson said about Johnson’s injury. “Probably shouldn’t have started him. He struggled and it put us behind the 8-ball.”
“They had some (scoring opportunities), but we got to the loose pucks and covered in front of the net pretty well,” Markell said. “Notre Dame is a good hockey club, but we just scored some timely goals and they didn’t.”
Buckeyes’ forward Hunter Bishop notched Ohio State’s only hat trick of the season thus far in Saturday’s game.
“I didn’t have much scoring touch there at the end of the regular season and this is the time of the year that counts,” Bishop said. “I’ll take them when I get them.”
Ohio State piled on the goals early and often in the first period. Buckeyes’ defenseman Matt Bartkowski had a nice deke to beat Johnson’s glove 3:36 into the first on a power play. Buckeyes’ forward Sergio Somma scored 24 seconds later to give Ohio State a 2-0 lead.
“Just one of those nights where shots you were taking were going in,” Somma said. “It happens sometimes. Who knows what the reason was, but we were getting some good opportunities and they were going in.”
Ohio State’s Mathieu Picard scored his third of the post season on a shot from the left circle to give the Buckeyes a 3-0 lead. Picard only had two goals during Ohio State’s regular season. C.J. Severyn rounded out the scoring to put Ohio State up 4-0 in the final minutes of the first.
“I thought we came out (in the first period) really well and I thought we were rolling a little bit in the first and they go down and shoot the puck on net and it goes in,” Jackson said. “That is deflating. That happened twice in the first period. I thought early on, we were buzzing.”
Notre Dame got a goal early in the second while on a five-on-three power play when Calle Ridderwall scored his 19th of the season as he took a rebound off the pipe and shot the puck into the net.
While killing off a major penalty, Chris Reed’s yeoman’s work in the defensive zone paid off as he was able to clear the puck to Bishop, who scored his first of two goals. Bishop added his second goal with 54 seconds left in the second.
Irish’s forward Christiaan Minella scored his second of the season 11:54 into the third to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 6-2. Somma scored his second of the game at 14:21 of the third and Bishop added his third of the game at 17:25 of the period.
Ohio State awaits the result of the Alaska/Western Michigan series, which Alaska leads 1-0. If Alaska wins one of the next two games, the Buckeyes will play in Oxford against the RedHawks.
“Finishing off in two will give us an extra day of rest, which is a huge deal this time of year,” Bishop said. “We know Miami is going to be bringing in a lot of fire next weekend so we have to be ready. We’re going to look forward to a week of rest.”