COLUMBUS, Ohio — Miami forward Curtis McKenzie had a whirlwind day on Friday.
His day started by taking a final in Oxford, Ohio. After a two-hour bus trip, his No. 5 RedHawks squad arrived at the Schottenstein Center just hours before taking on Ohio State.
After the Buckeyes took a 1-0 lead in the third period, McKenzie scored a power-play goal 12:43 into the third which forced a 1-1 tie with Ohio State.
“It is emotionally more straining than a normal game week,” McKenzie said. “Especially throughout the year, you have exams on Fridays, so it happens, but the whole finals week take a toll on the body.”
Miami’s Austin Czarnik scored the lone goal in a postgame shootout that decided an extra conference point. Miami improved to 3-0 on shootouts for the season. Ohio State is 1-2 in the tiebreaker.
“Coaches hate shootouts [because] it is a false sense if you win [and] if you lose, it is a false sense,” Ohio State coach Mark Oseicki said. “Would you like to gain that point? Yes, but it was a well-played hockey game. There were chances both ways and some great scoring opportunities. Both teams competed hard. It had to be fun to watch.”
McKenzie’s goal came from a one-timer setup by linemate Riley Barber. McKenzie’s score came from the slot on a backhander that beat the stick of Ohio State goalie Brady Hjelle.
The end of finals week forced the RedHawks to change their schedule. Instead of taking their usual morning skate, they were forced to wait in Oxford until 1:30 p.m. to allow players to finish finals week.
“It is one of those games in December where lots is going on,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “They come off exams, we come off exams, and you never know how that is going to play out. I thought both teams played well and probably deserved to be a tie.”
Finals week played havoc with Blasi’s squad beyond not being to take a morning skate Friday.
“It’s tough, we tried to find 40 minutes where we could go on the ice and just get our legs and we didn’t do any video, we didn’t do any meetings, we just got out on the ice and practiced for 40-45 minutes and let them go study,” Blasi said.
Special teams played a huge factor in this in-state battle. Ohio State was scoreless in four power-play opportunities. Miami, on the other hand, converted once on just two chances.
“When we went down, we had to score on our power play and that has not been doing a great job for us,” Blasi said. “For them to bear down and make some plays and Curtis to bury it was huge for us.”
The Buckeyes had an opportunity to win the game in overtime as Ryan Dzingel drew a slash from Miami’s Marc Hagel. Ohio State was only able to get one shot on goal during the two-minute advantage.
“In a perfect world, you would like your power play to score every time you’re on the power play, [but that's] not going to happen,” Osiecki said. “Once a game, you would like to see a power-play goal happen, sometimes not going to happen. How are you going to react to it? I thought our guys reacted pretty well. They give up a power-play goal, a miscommunication on our end, but our guys reacted to it. I don’t think that was a letdown.”
The two squads played a brutal first two periods that were evenly played. Only four penalties were called as the referees in general let the two teams play. Miami held a 19-16 shot advantage through two periods.
Ohio State got on the board first 3:52 into the third as Devon Krogh fired a slap shot from the right boards that snaked under the arm of Miami goalie Jay Williams.
The 1-0 ledger held up until McKenzie’s goal.
From there on, Miami outplayed Ohio State and held the Buckeyes to just three shots for the third period.