Shelby Lum / Lantern photographer
OXFORD, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s ice hockey team split a road series with No. 3 Miami (Ohio) this weekend. The Buckeyes beat the RedHawks 3-0 Friday before losing Saturday night’s game 4-2.
In the process, Miami captured the Central Collegiate Hockey Association crown for the first time since 2010. For OSU, its lone win against the RedHawks secured a quarterfinal matchup with Ferris State in Columbus.
Before Saturday night, though, the Buckeyes took the ice needing one point to play the Bulldogs at the Schottenstein Center.
Miami needed two points to bring the CCHA crown to Oxford.
With a man advantage and 9:20 remaining in the opening period, Miami senior forward Curtis McKenzie opened the scoring. The teams would enter the first intermission at 1-0.
RedHawks freshman forward Riley Barber added the lone goal of the second on an even strength goal with a captain in each penalty box.
Emotions would boil over in the high-stakes contest, as the closing period brought 51 penalty minutes and two game misconducts. Miami freshman forward Sean Kuraly was ejected for butt-ending and OSU freshman defenseman Sam Jardine was forced to leave the game after he grabbed an opposing player’s face mask. The RedHawks would push the lead to 4-0 before freshman defenseman Craig Dalrymple put the Buckeyes in the scoring column with 2:13 left.
The final buzzer sounded as the Miami bench cleared to celebrate its CCHA crown at the net with freshman goalie Ryan McKay.
RedHawk senior defenseman Steven Spinell said that a regular season title is not all his team set out to accomplish at the beginning of the season.
“It’s a huge honor to win the league championship, but we have bigger aspirations to come,” Spinell said.
OSU junior defenseman Curtis Gedig returned to the starting lineup Friday night after missing four weeks with a wrist injury. His presence was immediately felt as the Buckeyes posted their first shutout since Nov. 30. Senior goalie Brady Hjelle made 29 saves to earn his fourth clean sheet of the season.
OSU’s top line shined alongside its defense, with each forward posting two points. The eventual game-winner came early in the second, when junior forward Chris Crane scored on the power play, his sixth goal of the year.
Due to Ferris State’s inability to defeat Michigan Saturday night, OSU’s three points from the weekend were enough to clinch home ice for its date with the Bulldogs. OSU coach Mark Osiecki said leaving town with that in hand was a good accomplishment for his team.
“That was something that we set as a goal. Now we’ve got to find a way to win two games,” Osiecki said.
OSU sophomore forward Tanner Fritz said Miami produced an inspiring effort on its Senior Night.
“They had more will than us tonight,” Fritz said Saturday. “With the bye week here we can refocus after this loss, really get ourselves prepared.”
The best-of-three quarterfinal matchup will be played at the OSU Ice Rink starting March 15.