Ohio State rallied from the dead early in the third period then let an opportunity to snatch victory from No. 2 Miami (Ohio) slip away in an instant to spoil the season opener and head coaching debut of Steve Rohlik.
Junior forward Cody Murphy broke a two-all tie 29 seconds after the Buckeyes scored two quick goals as the RedHawks skated to four straight scores and a 6-2 victory before a split supporters crowd of 4,831 on Friday in Value City Arena.
“Our guys are disappointed with the result,” Rohlik said. “We were right there but in a blink of the eye against a very skilled hockey team a 2-2 game ended up 6-2.”
The nonconference game appeared out of reach entering the third period for the Buckeyes as a parade to the penalty box put them into a two-goal deficit after the first thanks to allowing a pair of 5-on-3 goals, and Miami sophomore goalie Jay Williams then made it stand through 40 minutes.
But just 20 seconds into the third junior winger Darik Angeli took a goalmouth pass from linemate junior Nick Oddo and whipped in the Buckeyes’ first goal with Williams out of position. At 2:53 it was junior forward Chad Niddery, who did not score in 26 games last season, converting a shot from the right point by sophomore defenseman Craig Dalrymple to tie the score and for the first time on the night had the OSU fans out-cheering the swarm of RedHawks followers who made the trip to Columbus.
With the dissolution of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, the Buckeyes and RedHawks moved to new leagues – OSU enters the Big Ten’s hockey conference while Miami now plays in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
As such, Saturday’s rematch in Oxford will be the final meeting this season but the series will continue next season and beyond.
“It’s great. You’ve got our fans. You’ve got Ohio State fans,” Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. “Tomorrow night will be the same. It’s what college hockey is all about. I know we’re both in different leagues but this is still our state. Ohio’s still our state and we want to take care of it and playing a home-and-home is very important to both institutions.”
The euphoria of the Buckeyes’ tying goal was short-lived as Murphy took a pass from junior Jimmy Mullin in the low left circle and beat sophomore goalie Collin Olson, who has the unenviable task of trying to replace graduated All-American Brady Hjelle.
“Fortunately we got a bounce, that helps, but I like the mentality of our team,” said Blasi.
Miami put the game away at 7:39 with the aid of some sloppy play by the Buckeyes in front of the net that junior center Blake Coleman cleaned up to make it 4-2.
Then the RedHawks scored for the third time on the power play off a sizzling one-timer from the right circle by freshman Anthony Louis at 14:18 before junior defenseman Ben Paulides added insult with his goal at 18:05.
Coincidentally the Buckeyes also lost their opener by the same score at Minnesota Duluth last season.
Ohio State started the season poorly with undisciplined play that led to the two-man advantage scores from junior Austin Czarnik at 7:47 and senior Alex Wideman 64 seconds later as sophomore Riley Barber and junior Sean Kuraly assisted on each to stake Miami to the lead.
“You can’t go out in a game and play this caliber of team and spot them two 5-on-3s right off the bat,” Rohlik said. “Certainly we have to be more disciplined.”
In all, the Buckeyes took four penalties in the opening 14 minutes – they averaged 4.7 a game last season – and finished with nine while Miami was whistled four times.
“With all the penalties, we didn’t give ourselves a great opportunity to win the hockey game,” OSU defenseman Curtis Gedig said.
In the second period Williams, who made 26 stops, twice denied the Buckeyes’ solo efforts that could have switched the momentum.
“We were trying to get it deep and play 5-on-5 hockey,” Angeli said. “We were playing simple. In the first it seemed we were running around. We kind of settled down took the jitters out of it and started playing our hockey.”
First, sophomore Tyler Lundey turned a mishandled puck by the RedHawks into a breakaway that Williams stoned then Angeli was denied shorthanded.
“Jay made some huge saves,” Blasi said. “He did the same thing in this building last year.”
The Buckeyes finally solved him in the third but Miami took over from there to claim the win.