It is not often a squad in the midst of an eight-game winning streak calls a team meeting, but that is precisely what Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki did Saturday morning.
Osiecki was concerned the team was developing bad habits.
The seventh-ranked Buckeyes notched their ninth consecutive victory knocking off No. 11 Lake Superior State, 2-1, Saturday evening at Value City Arena.
Ohio State is now five points ahead of Notre Dame for first place in the CCHA.
“They took the criticism-slash-coaching well,” Osiecki said. “They were getting a little full of themselves. I think that they were reading the situation more than where we’re at and our bad habits were
creeping in. As soon as those bad habits creep in, you’re in trouble.”
The Lakers were swept for the first time this season and fall to fourth place in the CCHA.
“It is a long season, obviously, we got swept this weekend, but we just have to get back to work,” Lakers coach Jim Roque said. “Every team is going to hit adversity along the way. I can’t fault their effort, 2-1
on the road and 1-1 third period. We needed to make a play and we didn’t.”
Chris Crane scored the eventual game-winner with 13:01 left in the third when Lakers goalie Kevin Murdock couldn’t handle a rebound off an Alex Lippincott shot. Crane promptly took the loose puck and poked the puck through the five-hole of Murdock.
“It is our mentality,” Crane said, “coming out with that first punch every single period. We went down 1-0 and we had to come back. Bottom line. We had to continue to play Ohio State hockey no matter what happens.
“I think once we got into the game there, we started wearing Lake State down and it worked out for us.”
Crane finished the game with seven shots and was a threat all night from around the net.
The first period was a gritty, evenly contested frame. Ohio State outshot Lake Superior State, 11-9, including a breakaway chance by Darik Angeli that was turned away by Murdock.
LSSU’s Chris Ciotti opened scoring 9:55 into the second after teammate Fred Cassiani blocked a clearing pass, allowing Ciotti to wrist a shot past OSU netminder Cal Heeter.
The Buckeyes were not rattled by the goal.
Ohio State responded 37 seconds later as Nick Oddo cleaned-up Tanner Fritz’s shot that was left on the goal line to tie the game.
Ohio State has won five straight games when the opponent takes a 1-0 lead.
“We have said it since day one, their response to a tough situation has been outstanding,” Osiecki said. “They score a goal against, we score within a minute. It has been that way all year. Our guys have a great response on the bench. There is no hanging their heads. Hey, no big deal, let’s go back to work and that is a positive sign.”
Ohio State caught a break later in the second as Lakers forward Colin Campbell’s slapper banged off the post and out of play. Lake Superior State’s Kellan Lain also fired a shot off the post in the third period.
“We played good, we played hard,” Roque said. “We had some good chances to score. We played good on the road, gave our self a chance to win a road game. They made the play in the third period and we didn’t.”
The Lakers gave Murdock the nod between the pipes rather than Kevin Kapalka. It was only Murdock’s second start this season and seventh collegiate appearance (after playing for Minnesota State during the 2009-10 season). His only previous start of the season was in a nonconference victory against Bemidji State where he stopped 20 of 21 shots.
Murdock performed well in stopping 31 shots.
Both the Lakers and Buckeyes will complete their pre-holiday slate next weekend. Ohio State has a home-and-home series against Miami. Lake Superior State hosts Northern Michigan next weekend.
The Lakers will be without Lain on Friday as he was called for a game disqualification for a scrap he got into with Danny Dries after the final whistle.