COLUMBUS, Ohio — The No. 14 Alaska Nanooks bounced back from a tough start to Saturday’s game with five unanswered goals to defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes, 5-2, in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Nationwide Arena.
Down 2-1 entering the third period, the Nanooks fired back with four goals in the period and carried the momentum throughout. The Nanooks started the third with a two minute penalty kill when Aaron Gens was caught retaliating a C.J. Severyn cross-check following the final whistle in the second. Ohio State did not take advantage of the ensuing power play and finished the game zero-for-six on the man advantage.
“Our power play didn’t do the job,” Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki said. “I think the biggest thing is we didn’t generate many scoring opportunities. That is all about work on penalty kills. Their level of work goes up and ours has to match that or exceed it.”
Alaska tied the game 6:36 into the third when Cody Kunyk’s hard slap shot beat the glove of Buckeyes goalie Cal Heeter.
The Nanooks got the game-winner 14:30 into the third when they capitalized on a Chris Reed Ohio State defensive zone turnover which led to a nice cross-crease pass from Ron Meyers to Chad Gehon, which Gehon redirected into the net. Alaska put the game away taking a 4-2 lead 34 seconds after Gehon’s goal when Meyers scored one of his own after receiving a nice centering pass from Ryan Hohl.
“It was one of those things where we were chipping away,” Alaska coach Dallas Ferguson said. “Going into the third, obviously starting the period on a penalty kill, we thought if we could get that killed, hopefully build off that and go in the right direction. The guys kept sticking with what we wanted to do.”
Alaska’s Colton Beck notched an empty-netter with one minute remaining in the game to put the Nanooks up 5-2.
“We kind of let up in the third yesterday and they played very well and they took it to us in the third and overtime,” Meyers said about OSU’s two goal rally yesterday. “Tonight, they played well too but we kept moving our feet, working hard. We didn’t change a thing all game, we just kept working hard and taking things to the net.”
Ohio State got the game’s first goal 2:16 into the opening period when John Albert slipped a wrap-around shot under the glove of Nanooks goalie Scott Greenham. The goal was Albert’s fourth of the season.
“I wouldn’t say the game was slipping away at all,” Albert said about the game. “We just got to bare down special team wise. We took too many penalties and have to score on the power play.”
Alaska had an excellent opportunity to get on the board two minutes into the second when Derek Klassen’s slap shot beat Heeter’s stick but went off the inside crossbar.
The Buckeyes gained a 2-0 lead 4:55 into the second after Alex Lippincott knocked in a loose puck that Greenham was diving to cover with his glove.
After notching three points and the game-winning shootout goal yesterday, Danny Dries was booted from Saturday’s game for hitting Nanooks defenseman Cody Butcher from behind. The Nanooks received a five minute power play and needed 3:33 of the power play to convert. Carlo Finucci scored at 9:54 of the second for his fourth of the season with a backhander through the five-hole of Heeter after winning a puck battle along the mid-wall.
“The difference in the game was the five minute major,” Osiecki said. “You look at the first 40 minutes of that game, we did a lot of good things. We played a heck of a lot better tonight than we did last night. We did a good job killing it off. We had to use a lot of energy.”
Just 13 seconds later, Ohio State defenseman Corey Toy was whistled for slashing. The Nanooks were unable to capitalize on their ensuing 1:15 five-on-three man advantage.
The Nanooks were without top scorers Andy Taranto and Kevin Petovello due to prior injuries.
“I think it was a good team effort,” Ferguson said. “We feel we have good depth in our forward position and guys stepped up and played within themselves. They did the things to be successful and give themselves a chance to win and got it done in the third.”
Ohio State (5-7-1, 2-4-1-1) hosts the Michigan Wolverines next weekend. Alaska gets a much-needed bye week and hopes to get healthy before traveling to Big Rapids to take on Ferris State.