OXFORD, Ohio — No. 2 Miami survived a gritty third period from Ohio State as the RedHawks defeated the Buckeyes 2-1 in the third and deciding game of the CCHA quarterfinals.
Miami will meet Michigan Friday in Joe Louis Arena in the CCHA semifinals.
“We know them very well,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said of Michigan. “Michigan is Michigan. They are going to come after you and you better be ready.”
“Michigan is a big rivalry,” RedHawks goalie Connor Knapp said. “It won’t take much to get up for that game.”
Knapp stopped all but one of the 23 shots he faced. Knapp last played 15 days ago in Columbus when he posted a 65-minute shutout against Ohio State. Buckeyes’ goalie Dustin Carlson had 22 saves on 24 shots.
Both teams were locked into a dump-and-chase game in the first period with Miami outshooting Ohio State 9-2. Ohio State did not get its second shot until more than 18 minutes into the first period. Miami had a chance to take the 1-0 lead 10:40 into the first as the puck was knocked into the net, but the officials blew their whistles to stop play, apparently thinking Carlson had possession of the puck.
Miami controlled play for the first 12 minutes of the second period. The RedHawks gained a 1-0 lead 9:15 into the second when Cameron Schilling’s slap shot from the right point beat Carlson’s glove. The goal was Schilling’s third of the season. Miami had a pair of shots go off the pipe in the second period.
After starting the game being outshot 17-4, Ohio State gained some momentum late in the second period. Shots on goal in the second were tied at 10.
“We did a real good job of [limiting Ohio State's scoring chances], especially in the first and second [periods] because in a deciding game, you don’t want to be playing from behind,” Blasi said. “Once we got that first goal, it was huge for us.”
“It was a game of cat and mouse,” Ohio State coach John Markell said. “We knew they were going to come out here and push. We didn’t have stellar opportunities [early], but we figured the longer it would go being tight and we live through it, we would give ourselves a chance.”
Ohio State carried the momentum with a number of opportunities. Its best came five minutes into the third when John Albert had a shot go off Knapp’s pad and land on Buckeyes forward Hunter Bishop’s stick. Bishop wasn’t able to get his shot over Knapp’s glove.
“We talked about it in the locker room: We had them where we wanted them,” Albert said, “on the road against the No. 2 team in the country. We came fired up in the third period and we had it going for a bit but we came up short.”
Miami took a 2-0 lead at 10:15 of the third when Alden Hirschfeld beat Carlson low stick side.
“Obviously, it was a huge goal at a good time to score only being up one goal,” Hirschfeld said. “It shouldn’t change how we play regardless whether we’re up one or two. We needed to stay focus.”
Ohio State got its first power play of the game at 13:26 of the third when Patrick Schafer took a cross check from Will Weber. Ohio State needed just 54 seconds of the power play as C.J. Severyn netted a shot after receiving a nice cross-crease pass from Albert to cut the RedHawks’ lead to 2-1.
Ohio State’s leading scorer Zac Dalpe found himself with a golden opportunity in the third as all heck broke loose in front of the net. His desperation shot in the final seconds of the game was deflected by the stick of Knapp.
“It was a fun atmosphere, obviously,” Blasi said of the third period. “Nerve-racking for the coaches because we have no say in it. But I thought [the Buckeyes] threw everything at us. We blocked some shots. They missed the net. It what was you wanted.”
Ohio State gained a power play on an elbow from Matt Tomassoni on Albert when there was 1:33 remaining in the game. The man advantage was wiped out 22 seconds later when Kyle Reed committed an interference penalty.
The Buckeyes’ intensity showed in the shot totals — they outshot the RedHawks 11-5 in the third.
“Their season was on the line and we knew they were going to come out hard,” Knapp said. “We had to match their intensity and stay with our game plan and execute it.”
“It also mattered that [the RedHawks] were protecting the lead,” Markell said about the third period. “It is a fine line. … They take a penalty and we get a goal.”
With the end of the season for Ohio State, Markell’s contract is up for renewal. With only one NCAA tournament appearance in the last five years, there are questions on whether he will be back behind Ohio State’s bench.
“We’ll see what happens. Now it is the end of the season and that is when typically they talk to coaches and I am no different than any other of the 36 [Ohio State] coaches,” Markell said. “All of the other coaches have to wait until the end of their season.”