PITTSBURGH — Making their third appearance in the annual Pittsburgh College Hockey Showcase, the Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Robert Morris Colonials 4-2 at the Consol Energy Center Friday night in front of a record crowd of 4,927.
The game featured little of the rust that normally accompanies the first game after Christmas break and offered plenty of chances at both ends and some fantastic saves from Ohio State’s Cal Heeter and RMU’s Brooks Ostergard.
“I thought it was an intense game tonight [and] the battle level was very high for both teams,” said Colonials coach Derek Schooley. “I was pleased with our effort tonight. I told our guys that if we play like that for our remaining 16 conference games, we’re going to have a lot of success. Unfortunately, we just didn’t get the bounce we needed or didn’t capitalize on the chances we created tonight.”
The action for both teams only took a few minutes to really get going. After some timid moments for both teams, the teams began to get to their respective games and the game plan for both sides was simple: Get pucks to the net.
The Colonials opened the scoring at the 10:50 mark of the first while on their second power play of the night. Following a defensive collapse from the Buckeyes and a mad scramble in front of the Ohio State net that saw Heeter make several high-quality saves, Colonial forward Colin South found a way to get his stick on a rebound which he pushed past the Buckeye netminder for his fourth goal of the season.
However, the Colonial lead was erased less than three minutes later when Curtis Gedig took advantage of a defensive breakdown and sent a snapshot past Ostergard at 13:24.
South then finished off a furious Colonial attack that seemed as if it would end with nothing to show for it. South caught Heeter out of position at the 16:17 mark and stuffed a shot into the wide-open net with assists going to freshman forward Scott Jacklin and senior Nick Chiavetta.
The Buckeyes fired the next shot less than a minute later, and it tied the game as Nick Oddo notched his fifth goal of the season, banging home Alex Carlson’s shot that was initially stopped by Ostergard. The teams went into the intermission tied at two.
The Colonials then brought the play to the Buckeyes to start the second period, as Heeter made one crucial save after another, but the Buckeyes were ready to capitalize on some Colonial misfortunes midway through the period when Chiavetta was sent off for tripping Heeter, making possible a five-on-three power play for 1:40.
Junior defenseman Devon Krogh put the Buckeyes in the driver’s seat at 9:27 of the second period with the game-winning goal, a low shot that beat Ostergard with just enough traffic in front. The goal seemed to take some starch out of the Colonial attack as the Buckeyes ramped up the intensity by outshooting Robert Morris 19-8 for the period.
“We knew what to expect from their team, I thought they (Robert Morris) played very solid.” said Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki. “They’re really confident in their abilities on the penalty kill.”
But it was the Buckeye penalty kill that eventually salted the game away in the third period as Ohio State turned away two Colonial power plays while Heeter stopped Colonial captain Trevor Lewis on a breakaway as well to help seal the victory.
The Colonials had one final chance to take a point from the contest over a minute of extra attacker time in the game’s final 1:21. However, OSU forward Tanner Fritz passed up a chance at a goal by passing to the leading Buckeye scorer, Chris Crane, who put the disc into the open net at 19:46 to close out the scoring.
The Colonials will return to Atlantic Hockey action next weekend when they travel to Bentley for a two game series, while the Buckeyes face Bowling Green in CCHA play.