COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State Buckeyes used a balanced attack of scoring and sturdy defense en route to a 5-1 victory over the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers Saturday evening in front of a crowd of 2,197 at Value City Arena.
Much like yesterday’s tilt, Saturday’s rematch was competitive for the first two periods but Ohio State pulled away in the final frame. Ohio State held a 3-1 lead at the second intermission. The Buckeyes outshot the Chargers 17-7 in the final period. Chris Crane scored at 13:09 of the third to make the score 4-1 and Paul Kirtland polished the scoring at 16:51 of the period.
“Hats off to our forwards,” Ohio State head coach Mark Osiecki said. “If we take care of the puck, we get the puck in deep—and that is our strength … to play in the offensive zone down low. If we’re going to be one (shot)-and-done on a line rush, all or nothing, it all comes back on our defensemen, we’re going to struggle.”
Both third period goals came on loose pucks in the crease off rebounds.
“I think it is hard work that is going to get us goals,” Crane said. “So we have to get in front of the net and get the dirty goals which count just as much as pretty goals.”
“I think for a couple periods, we can tell how we’re playing if we’re able to execute some of the game-plan we have in front of us,” Alabama-Huntsville head coach Chris Luongo said. “We plugged away in the second period and we’re waiting to see what kind of opportunity was created by it and it came in the form of a 5-on-3.”
Alabama-Huntsville had a 1:48 5-on-3 power play to finish the second period and 1:19 of the two penalties carried over to the third period. The Chargers were unable to capitalize.
“Obviously we didn’t take advantage of that,” said Luongo. “It starts to be a slow slide away from the task we have in front of us. You get a little bit of frustration. You got guys searching for ways to get it done.”
Ohio State held a 1-0 lead at the first intermission. Late in the first period, Buckeyes’ forward Cory Schneider scored after receiving a centering pass from C.J. Severyn and placed the puck in the net.
Alabama-Huntsville tied the game two minutes into the second scoring on one of its seven power plays. Keenan Desmet flipped a backhanded pass back to Neil Ruffini who send the puck past Ohio State goalie Cal Heeter. Ohio State responded 59 seconds later as Severyn’s wraparound beat the stick of Chargers’ goalie C.J. Groh.
The Buckeyes gained a 3-1 lead at 11:35 of the second when Ohio State forward Alex Szczechura redirected defenseman Shane Sims’ shot from between the circles. All four forward lines got goals in Saturday’s game.
“I think it is great to see my line with Crane and Somma; we played pretty well this weekend along with the other lines,” Severyn said. “Everyone chipped in offensively and that is one good thing to see guys get on the score sheet.”
Heeter had yet another simple evening stopping all but one of 21 shots against. Groh replaced Friday night’s Chargers’ goalie Clarke Saunders. Groh stopped 44-of-49 shots against.
Ohio State will try to replicate this weekend’s achievement against a bit tougher opponent at No. 12 Michigan State next weekend. The Spartans will look to rebound as they got swept by Western Michigan this weekend.
“I think we talked about that right now, it is another baby step we took,” Osiecki. “Enjoy (the win) right now in the moment, but we have to turn that page and get ready for jumping back into CCHA play and going on the road. ”
Following an eight game road-stand where they went 0-7-1, the Chargers will seek to recover for a pair of games against Providence.
“Human nature is that you have a down cycle at some point,” Luongo said. “With the schedule we have played and where we played it, when we have a bit of an uptick with Michigan State where we had a one goal loss and a tie, and you come here and (yesterday’s) first game was on the down side.
“If you just look at it from the outside and you’re really aware of what’s going on, you would think it would be a bunch of bad games but on the contrary, I think we had some games through some eight games on the road.”
Buckeyes’ senior forward John Albert notched his 100th point of his collegiate career on Crane’s goal. Albert is the first Buckeye to reach 100 points since Tom Fritsche did so in 2007-08.