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College Hockey:
Niddery OT goal lifts Ohio State over Miami

— The Ohio State Buckeyes bounced back from a 5-3 defeat to the Miami RedHawks in Columbus Friday with a 3-2 overtime victory Saturday night in Oxford. Freshman forward Chad Niddery scored the game-winner for OSU, the first goal of his collegiate career. OSU goes into the break atop the CCHA standings with a 13-4-1 (10-3-1-1) record. Miami falls to 9-9-2 (5-7-2-1).

Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki didn’t want too much importance to be put on this one win, saying instead the team will continue to focus on improving for the second half of the season.

“It’s important to us to get better,” he said. “We’re not an over-the-top skill team. We’re more of a hard-working, blue collar [team].”

After the teams played a scoreless first period, Miami finally broke through midway through the second period. In the midst of a line change, RedHawks junior forward Curtis McKenzie stole the puck and found himself alone in the offensive zone. He challenged Buckeyes junior goaltender Brady Hjelle head on, but his initial shot was blocked. Hjelle wasn’t able to cover it up though, and it bounced right back to McKenzie, who buried it into the net for his fourth goal of the season.

The Buckeyes responded quickly, evening the score less than two minutes later. Freshman forward Nick Oddo brought the puck into Miami’s zone and fired a shot on goal from the faceoff circle on Miami goaltender Cody Reichard’s left. Reichard made the save off his chest, but the puck took a long rebound out in between the circles. Ohio State freshman forward Tanner Fritz swooped in and fired a wrister before the goalie could collect himself, earning his second goal of the season.

The final period began with a flurry of activity around Miami’s net. The Buckeyes attacked Reichard relentlessly, nearly going ahead when a shot by senior forward Danny Dries clanged off the crossbar, but the momentum swayed back in Miami’s favor.

Oddo was given a game misconduct at 4:54 for contact to the head of a RedHawks player, putting Miami on a five-minute power play. The RedHawks took advantage, going back in front at 8:21. Chris Wideman was in between the circles when he fired a pass over to Jimmy Mullin in the faceoff circle on Hjelle’s right. He one-timed it across the ice to Reilly Smith in the left circle, who one-timed it passed Hjelle before he could adjust. It was his team-high 12th goal of the season.

Once again, the Buckeyes did not wait long to respond. As soon as the major penalty expired, they put the pressure back on Reichard. There was a battle for the puck along the boards at the red line, with Devon Krogh coming away with it. He centered it to Dries, who slapped it at Reichard. The puck bounced around behind the goaltender for a moment before coming to a rest in the twine. It was Dries’ team-best 11th goal this season.

Both teams kept the intensity on high, but neither was able to find the back of the net again in regulation.

Just 37 seconds into the extra period, Miami’s Wideman was whistled for a high stick behind Miami’s net, putting the Buckeyes on their sixth power play of the night. With two seconds left on the power play, Alex Carlson won a faceoff in the circle on Reichard’s right. The puck went to Niddery, who slapped it past Reichard glove-side for the game-winner.

Miami coach Enrico Blasi said his team will have to put this one behind them quickly and learn from it in the second half of the season.

“We have to be more disciplined; that will be our number one priority [in the second half],” he said. “We haven’t made strong plays down the stretch of games, and that’s cost us.”

Ohio State will next play at Robert Morris on December 30 in nonconference action. Miami will play at Michigan State January 6-7.

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