The Ohio State men’s hockey team made the cross country trip to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks this past weekend and managed to split their two-game series with the Nanooks. OSU (12-10-4, 8-8-2 Central Collegiate Hockey Association) dropped one spot to sixth place in the CCHA rankings with their weekend performance, and UAF (10-11-3, 6-10-2 CCHA) stayed at the bottom of the conference at 11th.
The Buckeyes, who began each game four hours later than usual because of the change in time zone, showed little of the effects of jet lag with their five-goal outburst on Friday night. Junior defenseman Sean Collins started the Buckeye scoring with his sixth goal of the year just past the midway point of the first period. Receiving a pass from senior captain Nate Guenin, Collins slid a wrist shot from the point past Nanook freshman goalie Chad Johnson for a power play goal that gave OSU the early lead.
The Nanooks knotted up the game at one with a power-play goal by sophomore forward Aaron Lee, but OSU responded just 12 seconds later with sophomore forward Sam Campbell’s second goal of the season, taking a 2-1 lead.
Following a scrum in front of the net, Campbell picked up a loose puck last touched by sophomore forward Tom Fritsche and found the back of the net to give OSU a lead that it would not relinquish.
OSU used the third period to pad its stats as it lit the lamp three more times to finish the game 5-1.
Senior forward Rod Pelley picked up a loose puck in the UAF zone to score an unassisted goal, his sixth of the season. Seven minutes later, Campbell picked up his second goal of the game off of beautiful passing between Fritsche and sophomore forward Dominic Maiani. The two-goal game was the second of Campbell’s career – he accomplished the feat against Notre Dame last season.
Junior forward Andrew Schembri closed out the Buckeye scoring as he slipped his sixth goal of the season past UAF’s second goalie of the night, freshman Brandon Cross.
OSU was outshot 33-29 by the Nanooks, but another great performance by senior goalie Dave Caruso made all but one of the shots irrelevant. It was just the third time this season the Buckeyes have been outshot. Caruso finished with 32 saves.
A couple of bad bounces and a strong Nanook defense were the story of Satuday night’s game, as UAF shut out OSU 3-0. Buckeye penalty-killing was tested late in the period with a full two minute 5-on-3 power play. After nearly killing the entire penalty, UAF struck with junior Jordan Hendry’s goal that deflected from a ridge in the glass behind a net, back to the front of the goal and finally off the back of an OSU defenseman.
“On the first goal, the 5-on-3, we were killing it, everyone was blocking shots. It was a pretty impressive penalty kill, then they shoot the puck wide, it hits off the end board and bounces in,” said senior captain Nate Guenin. “It’s tough to give up goals like that, because you are working hard and you’d like to think you are playing well, but that’s sports. Sometimes you just don’t get the bounces.”
UAF scored the only goal of the second period as Hendry sent a shot deflecting from the far side of the net off of sophomore Ryan Muspratt and ending up just inside the right post for Muspratt’s second goal of the season.
The Buckeyes continued to have difficulty with their own power play, going 0-for-9 on the night.
“We were expecting them to come hard on Saturday and that’s exactly what they did,” said Collins. “We had trouble on the power play and we just didn’t take advantage of opportunities.”
Nanook sophomore goalie Wylie Rogers shut down the Buckeye scoring attack with 31 saves to gather his second shutout of the season and set the Nanook career record with five. UAF’s leading goal scorer, junior forward Curtis Fraser, converted an empty-net goal with a little more than a minute remaining in the game to conclude the night’s scoring. Caruso finished the night with 18 saves.
“Tonight I was as proud as I’ve ever been of a Nanooks hockey team,” said UAF coach Tavis MacMillan on the Nanooks’ official Web site. “When our guys play like this, they can beat anybody. They came to the rink today believing they were going to win.”
The Nanooks shutout was just the fourth of the season by a Buckeye opponent and ended OSU’s five-game winning-streak against UAF.
The Buckeyes return to the ice this weekend with a two-game home series against Notre Dame. The teams will meet Friday at 7:05 p.m., and Saturday at 8:05 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.