COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State staved off a furious Lake Superior State rally in the third period to persevere over the Lakers by a 3-2 final Friday evening.
The Buckeyes had nine different players notch a point in the contest.
Ohio State held a 2-0 lead through one period and a 3-0 lead through two periods before the Lakers rallied with two goals in the third period.
“We gave ourselves a chance with eight minutes to go with a 3-2 game on the road in the CCHA; I have no gripes at all,” Lake Superior State coach Jim Roque said. “My guys did a nice job. I thought [goalie] Kevin [Murdock] did a nice job.”
The game was a wide-open affair with chances going both ways. Ohio State goalie Brady Hjelle did not improve on his third-best goals against average in the country, but did stop a pair of Lake Superior State breakaways.
“There were a lot of breakdowns of the game, but that is the game of hockey,” Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki said. “I thought our guys did a pretty good job of handling the situation when we didn’t make the right decision or something poor happened to us.”
Ohio State’s victory meant the Buckeyes surpassed the Lakers in the CCHA standings as OSU is tied for fifth with Alaska.
Ohio State got on the board 6:05 into the first as Riley Simpson’s innocent looking wrister from the left circle went through the five hole of Lakers’ starting goalie Kevin Kalpalka. Roque had seen enough after Kapalka only saw five shots. He inserted Murdock between the pipes, who stopped 22 of 24 shots faced.
“I have been with Kevin [Kapalka] for three years and that was a bad goal from a bad angle, he was deep in the net and Kevin has to be out and be aggressive,” Roque said.
Ohio State’s second goal was a game-changer. After Ohio State defender Sam Jardine’s shot found the post, the Lakers had a breakaway opportunity as leading scorer Domenic Monardo found himself on a breakaway, but Hjelle turned away the opportunity.
Seconds later, Ohio State defender Curtis Gedig cleaned up a loose puck left from Ryan Dzingel’s shot and poked the puck into the net on the power play. Instead of a tied game, Ohio State held a 2-0 lead late in the first period.
“It was a nice scramble in front of the net and I was swinging and felt contact and put the puck into the back of the net,” Gedig said. “At that time, I am supposed to go back door there on the power play. Something told me to keep going and it paid off.”
“We had a breakaway shorthanded that could have made the game 1-1 [and then] they came down after we didn’t score and made it 2-0,” Roque said. “That is the CCHA right there – it comes down to those kind of plays. I thought our effort was outstanding, I thought our guys came to play, but Ohio State did everything they had to do coming off a couple of losses.”
Ohio State got its eventual game-winner from Tanner Fritz 3:49 into the second on a shot that deflected off of Lake Superior State defender Zach Sternberg’s skate and into the net.
The Lakers made the game interesting by scoring a pair in the third period. After failing to convert on a breakaway in the second period, Chris Ciotti got the Lakers on the board after receiving a cross-ice feed from Dan Radke 48 seconds into the third.
Ben Power notched his fourth of the season, beating the glove of Hjelle 10:22 into the frame.
The Lakers were given a power-play opportunity with 6:58 remaining when Nick Oddo was called or a slash, but Lake Superior State was unable to garner any quality chances from the man-advantage.
Roque said that he will go with Murdock Saturday evening in the final-ever CCHA contest between the Lakers and Buckeyes.