COLUMBUS, Ohio — After a shaky first period, Alaska went on to dominate the final 40 minutes in its 3-1 win over Ohio State Saturday evening thanks to clutch penalty killing.
But thoughts quickly turned to the condition of Ohio State freshman defender and Chicago Blackhawks’ prospect Sam Jardine, who skated off the ice 5:25 into the third period. Jardine’s right wrist caught the skate of Alaska’s Cody Kunyk, which caused blood to spew onto the ice.
After the game, Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki confirmed that Jardine was taken immediately to the emergency room and could be going to the operating room.
“Whatever it is, it is bad,” Osiecki said. “We are just hoping he can play hockey again.”
Saturday marked the second straight game the Buckeyes lost a freshman skater. Friday night, forward Anthony Greco went down with a leg injury that could keep him out until January, said Osiecki.
“We can’t explain all these injuries that have happened,” Osiecki said. “It has been unbelievable. In my career, I have never seen anything like this. And they are kind of flukey ones. But to lose a guy last night, to see how he did it and then to see Sam today, I don’t know. Guys are shaking their heads.”
Alaska led 2-1 when Jardine left the game and the Buckeyes never regained their composure.
The Nanooks gave the Buckeyes a golden opportunity in the third period as Alaska’s Nolan Youngmun had a pair of penalties in the final 10 minutes of the game. His first penalty was for high sticking and his second was for contact to the head roughing which gave the Buckeyes a five-minute man-advantage.
Rather than getting the Buckeyes gaining the equalizer, Alaska’s Michal Quinn intercepted the puck and found captain Adam Henderson for a breakaway goal to give the Nanooks a 3-1 lead with 1:18 left.
“Our team takes pride in our penalty kill,” Henderson said. “It is an important aspect of the game and these last two games, we have been on the penalty kill quite a bit, so we definitely got our practice worth.”
Saturday marked the second straight night the Nanooks suffered a major penalty and game misconduct.
“ou better make sure that call is 100 percent before you take a kid out of a game and take that away from them,” Alaska coach Dallas Ferguson said. “I don’t know if I have seen that this weekend where I would have said – to take a game away from a player, I didn’t see that this weekend. There is a difference between a legitimate misconduct and a difference and also enforcing the rules.”
The Nanooks take four out of a possible six conference points back with them to Fairbanks after tying the Buckeyes 1-1 Friday night.
Alaska was once again led by freshman goalie John Keeney, who stopped all but one of the 33 shots he faced. His only blemish came on a rebound goal by Chris Crane on a five-on-three power play in the first period. Ohio State fired 18 shots in the first period, but only managed 15 shots for the final two periods.
“One thing we asked of [Keeney], they are all working hard,” Ferguson said. “Our volunteer goalie coach, Wylie Rogers, works with the goalies [and] has done an outstanding job communicating with them, working with them and having them in good places. I think they have all done a good job this year giving our team a chance to win every night and it was John’s chance this weekend and he performed.”
Ohio State goalie Collin Olson had a shutout going for the first 39 minutes of Saturday’s contest. Alaska got on the board with one minute left in the second as Colton Beck fired a shot past the glove side of Olson to tie the game at one.
Jarret Granberg scored the eventual game-winner 7:39 into the third as he redirected Henderson’s soft wrister from the point over the glove of Olson at the end of a power play.
“We kept grinding throughout the game,” Henderson said. “It was kind of a tough game. Not a lot of grade-A scoring chances, but it was back and forth. With all the penalties back and forth, [it] definitely killed momentum on either side.”