For two scoreless periods, it felt like an entertaining, back-and-forth hockey game was yearning to break out in Value City Arena.
It finally did in the third period, leaving the home fans fulfilled – especially after a shootout win.
Ohio State got third-period goals from Alex Carlson and Ben Gallacher and shootout tallies from Tanner Fritz and Chris Crane as the Buckeyes and Alaska tied a CCHA contest by a 2-2 score, after which the Buckeyes got the extra league point with a 2-1 win in the skills competition.
“I think it was a good result,” OSU head coach Mark Osiecki said. “We didn’t play great in the second or third, not like the first certainly, but we responded. I think it’s something we can build on.”
The result came after a four-goal third period in which the tallies came fast and furious – including three in 3:09.
“When it rains, it pours, eh,” Alaska head coach Dallas Ferguson said with a chuckle.
The rest of the way was a lesson in hanging on for Ohio State, which was able to do so despite being outshot 18-4 in the third and 34-13 after the first. After an OSU power-play chance went for naught in the overtime frame, the teams went to the shootout, with Colton Beck scoring on Cal Heeter before Fritz beat Alaska goalie Scott Greenham clean through the legs and Crane sniped one top shelf over the glove.
Heeter, the No. 1 star of the game with 34 saves, then waited out high-scoring junior Andy Taranto on Alaska’s last shootout attempt before stuffing the puck at his right post to seal the deal.
“It was nice to see Heeter make a couple of big saves for us, and for us to get the extra point in the CCHA standings, that’s a big deal,” Gallacher said.
The resulted moved Ohio State to 3-3-1 (2-2-1-1 CCHA) with eight points in five games in the league. Alaska is now 3-2-1 (0-1-2-0) going into tomorrow night’s rematch in VCA.
“I think you can see glimpses of the team we can be,” Osiecki said. “What time this year can we be more consistent? I don’t know. You’re dealing with 12 freshmen.”
The stirring finish was fitting given the solid counterpunches the teams threw at each other through the first two periods and the scoring explosion in the third.
Carlson set things off only 38 seconds into the final period, taking a lead-in pass from Curtis Gedig, squaring up on the left wing and scoring past Greenham.
Alaska mounted a quick charge, though, and it paid off on the power play at 8:02. Some quick passing led Aaron Gens at the center point to feed Jarret Granberg in the left circle, and Granberg unleashed a backhander over Heeter’s glove as the goalie slid the other direction.
The Nanooks took a 2-1 lead just 67 seconds later, outworking the Buckeyes in their zone before Justin Filzen potted a rebound past Heeter with a quick lash.
But Ohio State was not done, either, earning a power play in short order that ended with Gallacher’s shot from the top of the zone through traffic and past Greenham at 11:13. The Calgary, Alberta, native celebrated with gusto, jumping into the arms of his teammates before jetting to the bench for more kudos.
“I threw it on net and it happened to hit, I think, an Alaska stick coming in there so it was tough for the goalie to see,” Gallacher said. “I was definitely pumped to tie the game there.”
The first two periods were scoreless but certainly not without intrigue as a grand total of four posts rang aloud – with each team coming inches away from scoring twice.
The first pair went to Ohio State in the opening period, as Alex Lippincott came in on a 2-on-1 and hit the post to the blocker side of Greenham. Minutes later on the power play, Darik Angeli’s blast hit the same post as he came on the right wing.
“With a young group on a Thursday night with midterms, everything that’s going on, I thought they prepared themselves great and came out to a great start, probably our best start of the year,” Osiecki said.
Alaska finally started picking up the play late in the first period, a frame in which the Nanooks were outshot 9-2. Cody Kunyk’s rebound try hit the bar to Heeter’s glove side, then early in the second, a PP blast by Beck went off the post behind Heeter’s blocker.
After getting help from the iron in the early going, Heeter calmed down while playing yet another solid game. The senior made a stop on a redirection by Beck later in the second then had two great stops on the penalty kill late in the third on Granberg and Taranto.
With the goalie’s help, OSU held off the charge and earned the two points.
“At the end of the night, we were able to battle through, persevere and we came together as a team,” Heeter said, “and we had a couple of great goals there in the shootout that gave me a chance to make one more save down there and get the extra point.”
Notes: Ohio State was without freshman forward Max McCormick, who missed his third straight game with an undisclosed injury … Greenham finished with 20 saves. … Alaska was 1 for 6 on the power play, including 1 for 4 in the third, while OSU finished 1 for 4.
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