COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio State Buckeyes and Lake Superior State Lakers were locked into a classic goaltenders duel Friday as the teams skated to a 1-1 tie in Value City Arena.
The Lakers improved to 5-3 in shootouts gaining the extra point as Kyle Jean scored the shootout’s only goal.
Lakers freshman goalie Kevin Kapalka stopped 35-of-36 Buckeyes’ shots not including all three of the Buckeyes’ shots in the shootout. Ohio State’s Cal Heeter stopped all but one of the Lakers’ 28 shots on goal.
“It doesn’t go down as a loss but it feels like one,” Heeter said. “We could really use the extra point here towards the end of the year going into the playoffs.”
“We threw a lot of things at the net but their goaltender played very well,” Ohio State head coach Mark Osiecki said. “We generated some offense there but we have to find a way to get it in the back of the net.”
“We’ve been really good on the shootouts this year,” Kapalka said. Ohio State “played hard. They came at us pretty hard in the third period. It was just good we got the (shootout) win.”
Kapalka has played well lately leading the Lakers to points in nine of their last 10 games and has not allowed more than two goals per game in that span. The Lakers’ freshman goalie has had to step up and start every game in the absence of senior goalie Brian Mahoney-Wilson who has not played since Nov. 26.
“He’s played well, he was put in a really tough situation losing Brian at Christmas time,” Lake Superior State head coach Jim Roque said. “He’s held up really well… He has really good composure. He drives me crazy because he skates every morning skate, every practice until the end. But he is out there for three hours a game and I worry about him. He likes to work.”
Though Ohio State had 36 shots and Lake Superior State had 28 shots, neither team had many excellent scoring chances.
The Buckeyes got on the board first as John Albert’s shot from the right point slipped through the five hole of Kapalka 16:31 into opening first period.
Kapalka “would have like to have had the first goal back on Albert’s there but we made a mistake up the ice leaving him open,” Roque said.
“We had a lot of shots but I don’t think we had that many grade-A opportunities,” Albert said. “I think a lot of our shots came from the perimeter. We just have to get to the dirty area and make sure we get a few goals tomorrow night.”
The Lakers tied the game with 89 seconds left in the second as Ben Power scored after taking a loose puck caused by a Matt Cowie shot that went off an OSU defender.
Though the Lakers tied the game late in the second, the Buckeyes carried momentum into the third period as they outshot Lake Superior State 11-2 in the first 8:08 of the period. Kapalka stopped Ohio State’s final 29 shots on goal.
“I think that we do have to find a way to get in front of the net more,” Osiecki said. “I thought their team did a great job in the neutral zone in the middle of the ice. I think they do a great job in the D-zone taking away the middle in the net front.”
“They’re at home, tied 1-1, their goalie played well so you kind of had to expect them to throw pucks at the net,” Kapalka said. “They came at us hard but I thought we played well in the final 10 minutes there.”
Lake Superior played disciplined hockey only taking two penalties and only had to kill two minutes and five seconds of penalty time.
With the Lakers’ shootout victory, they are within a point of catching fifth place Ferris State for a possible first round bye in the CCHA Championship. Ohio State remains in ninth place three points behind Alaska for eighth.