BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — In a game neither coach was disappointed with, the Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Ferris State Bulldogs, 3-1, to open the final CCHA series between the two teams.
Ohio State was led by Chris Crane’s two goals and Brady Hjelle, who had 38 saves in the win. The Buckeyes defense also blocked 17 shots in the winning effort.
“Blocking shots is a key component of our game,” said Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki. “Our guys get fired up for each other when that happens.”
Playing with a lead for much of the game also allowed the Buckeyes to settle down and work to control the pace of play.
“It’s nice to score first, especially on the road,” said Osiecki. “We played well, and when you’re up, you can play differently and that’s something that helped us.”
After early chances from Ferris State in the first, Ohio State got on the board first with a goal from junior Alex Szczechura. Szczechura kept the puck on his stick despite the Ferris State defense collapsing to the net before slipping a shot past C.J. Motte.
Chris Crane added to the Buckeyes lead minutes later with a second-effort goal that found its way past Motte.
“That second goal, I really feel like C.J. should have had that one,” said Ferris State coach Bob Daniels.
Late in the first period, Ferris State applied some of the best pressure of the game, but the Bulldogs couldn’t find a way to solve Hjelle.
“We did everything we could,” said Ferris State forward Justin Buzzeo. “We peppered their goalie. He [Hjelle] was unbelievable, saved 30-something shots. Their ‘D’ helped him out, but he stood on his head.”
In the second frame, Ferris State applied more pressure, culminating in a scramble in front of Hjelle with the Buckeyes on the penalty kill.
Despite being over 23 percent on the power play, the Bulldogs were held to just two shots on goal in their five power-play attempts.
“Their lane discipline defensively was really strong and didn’t give a lot of good looks and opportunities,” said Daniels of the Ohio State penalty kill.
Crane finally put the game out of reach early in the third with his second of the night coming on a play that saw Kenny Babinski handcuff himself as he and Crane raced for a loose puck in front of the net.
Ferris State added one goal from Buzzeo late in the third after a heads-up pass from Dom Panetta, but couldn’t solve Hjelle again to get back into the game.
“I won’t lose sleep tonight,” said Daniels. “We played well. There’s not going to be any soul searching. When you play like we did tonight, you’re going to win your share of hockey games.”
Ohio State and Ferris State will conclude their two-game CCHA series tomorrow night.