Christian Frey made 60 saves in one game and lost. That was the prevailing takeaway from the Ohio State men’s hockey team’s home-and-home series with No. 11 Miami (Ohio).
After falling 5-1 in Columbus on Friday, the Buckeyes lost, 2-1, the following night despite their sophomore goaltender’s near-record-setting performance in Oxford, Ohio.
“We have to look in the mirror and get better defensively,” OSU coach Steve Rohlik said. “I think that’s the biggest thing for us.”
Frey came within six saves of setting a school record for most saves in a game on Saturday. OSU was outshot 62-20 in the game, the first time it had allowed more than 50 shots since Oct. 12, 2002, against Minnesota.
“They shot the puck from everywhere, but I think they just outworked us in our zone,” Frey said. “We need to compete a lot harder.”
The Buckeyes began Saturday’s game with the upper hand when RedHawk freshman defenseman Scott Dornbrock was ejected for interference at the 1:36 mark of the first period.
Dorbrock’s game misconduct put OSU on a five-minute power play, during which the Buckeyes made it 1-0.
Scoring opened late in the man advantage when OSU senior forward Tanner Fritz came barreling down the left-wing side, chucked a shot on net and junior forward Anthony Greco slapped in the rebound.
“It was a tough play,” Miami junior goalie Jay Williams said. “I thought that as a whole, we responded really well … from that point on I think we took over the game.”
The Buckeyes carried their lead into the first intermission, but saw it erased midway through the second period when Miami freshman defenseman Louie Belpedio fired a shot through traffic to tie the game. Frey said he never saw the shot.
Less than two minutes later, RedHawks senior forward Alex Wideman scored the eventual game-winner on a wrap around.
The RedHawks nearly added another later in second, but Miami senior forward Austin Czarnik’s goal was disallowed as the puck was frozen beneath Frey’s pad before it was pushed in.
Despite catching a break, OSU couldn’t regain its first period momentum. The RedHawks outshot the Buckeyes, 25-5, in the second.
“They just played more desperate than we did,” Rohlik said. “Once they started playing desperate and controlling the play, we were in retreat mode.”
Miami preserved its 2-1 lead the rest of the way, attempting 62 shots to OSU’s 20.
“It was tough, but I think we had a little bit better effort today,” Fritz said. “Maybe the shot clock didn’t show it but we did play hard, we competed.”
Saturday’s one-goal game came on the heels of a 5-1 RedHawk win on Friday. But while OSU brought new energy on the road, it was without the services of senior defenseman Justin DaSilva and junior defenseman Sam Jardine.
DaSilva and Jardine were issued game misconducts for illegal checks on Friday and served what Rohlik referred to as “team consequences” the following night.
“We just made some decisions,” Rohlik said. “We don’t want to lead the country in penalty minutes so that’s going to end.”
The ejections forced OSU to play with a shortened bench for the second half of Friday’s game.
“We were playing behind and at that point having four (defenseman) doesn’t make it easy to get back in the game,” sophomore defenseman Drew Brevig said. “It would have been nice to have all six when you’re wanting to join the rush.”
Brevig made it 3-1 early in the third period, but the RedHawks added two even-strength goals to put the game out of reach.
Penalties were costly for the Buckeyes on Friday as the RedHawks went three-for-five on the power play.
OSU sophomore goaltender Matt Tomkins finished Friday with 28 saves and the Buckeyes were outshot, 33-27.
• OSU freshman forward Kevin Miller made his collegiate debut on Saturday
• OSU junior defenseman Blake Doerring made his Buckeye debut on Saturday