The Ohio State men’s hockey team picked up its first series win and sweep of the season over Western Michigan.
The Buckeyes defeated the Broncos both Friday and Saturday, winning each game by a score of 4-2. Although the scores of the games were the same, the methods of winning were drastically different.
Friday’s four-goal third period
Ohio State started slow in the opener before catching fire in the third. The Buckeyes outshot the Broncos 12-5 in the first period, but found themselves behind on the scoreboard. Western Michigan capitalized on its first power-play opportunity as Jared Katz put a shot past goaltender Dustin Carlson.
The Broncos held their 1-0 lead until Paul Kirtland scored for the Buckeyes at the 4:50 mark in the third period. Kirtland, after being released from the penalty box, immediately took the puck down the ice and hit a shot that found its way past goaltender Riley Gill. The goal initiated a wave of momentum in the Buckeyes’ favor.
Hunter Bishop struck again for the Buckeyes at the 5:24 mark, and Mathieu Picard added his first goal of the season just 15 seconds later for the Buckeyes’ third goal in 49 seconds.
Western Michigan cut the Buckeye lead in half with its second power-play goal of the game, this time on a five-on-three. But Peter Boyd iced the game for the Buckeyes scoring with only 2:26 remaining, pushing the Buckeye lead back to two.
“I really liked the fact that when the game was over, the first thing I looked at was Dusty [Carlson] getting the big hug from Kyle Reed,” coach John Markell said. “It was just nice to see that we got the win for whoever’s in net.”
The win is Carlson’s first of the season. The junior finished with 19 saves and helped the Buckeyes kill five of the Broncos seven power plays. Markell said he was pleased with Carlson’s performance.
“The first goal was not his fault. They got two power-play goals, and one was off the shaft of his stick. The other one was a five on three,” Markell said. “Our job now is to go back, assess the tape, and know that in this league and college hockey you have to be able to back up a game.”
The Buckeyes were able to do just that the next night.
Saturday night sweep
Markell expressed concern that OSU might not be focused on Saturday after coming off a win and anticipating the football game that night for the Big Ten title.
However, the Buckeyes were able to maintain their focus and came out strong in the first period. Zac Dalpe started the scoring for the Buckeyes, recording a power-play goal to give OSU a 1-0 edge.
Later in the first period, Hunter Bishop hit a backhand shot past Western goaltender Riley Gill to put the Buckeyes up 2-0.
But the Broncos were resilient and capitalized on a five-on-three power play late in the first. Western’s Greg Squires hit a shot, which deflected off a defender’s skate, then floated past goaltender Cal Heeter to cut the Buckeye lead in half.
Similar to Friday’s game, no goals were scored in the second period, so the Buckeyes carried their 2-1 lead into the third.
In the third period, Peter Boyd hit a centering pass from behind the goal, which Dalpe ripped to the back of the net for his second goal of the game.
The Broncos again came back, scoring halfway through the third period, drawing them to within one.
But for the second night in a row, Boyd sealed the victory for the Buckeyes with a late score. This time, it was an empty-net goal with just 19 seconds remaining, putting the Buckeyes up 4-2 to match the score of Friday night’s game.
Heeter had a big night in goal for the Buckeyes, finishing with 36 saves.
“You figure anytime you put 38 shots on net, I’d like to think you would score more than a couple of goals,” Broncos coach Jim Culhane said. “I think Cal [Heeter] played a tremendous game for OSU and really made some quality saves for them.”
With the win, Heeter moved to 4-1-1 on the season. The Buckeyes, now winners of three straight, look to carry their momentum into next week’s matchup against Ferris State.