Ordinarily this Tuesday post will feature a recap of the previous weekend’s series along with some interesting links to stories about Buckeyes past, present, and future. However, on account of the October schedule is weird and today is actually a game day, this particular post will be a recap/preview.
The Buckeyes were on the wrong end of the sweep last weekend, dropping both games to the then No. 2 and (after Sacred Heart’s upset of UMass-Lowell) now No. 1 Miami RedHawks.
What Went Wrong
Slow Starts: In both games of the series the Buckeyes were in an 0-2 hole before the halfway mark of the opening period. On Friday this was due to a flurry of Ohio State penalties and back-to-back two man advantages for Miami. Judging from the highlights, Saturday’s deficit was a combination of flat-footedness, rookie goalie, and talented scorer. The Buckeyes had to expend a ton of energy just to get back to even which may have contributed (to some degree) to the ease with which the RedHawks pulled away in the latter stages of each game.
Failure to Capitalize: Ohio State had at least half a dozen breakaways in this series. They weren’t able to score on a single one. Miami’s Jay Williams and Ryan McKay showed why they’re two of the better goalies in the country.
Penalties: This was more of a problem in the first game than the second, but it was bad enough to merit a mention anyway. The Buckeyes were whistled for nine penalties on Friday, four of them within a seven minute span in the first period. Although it began to feel as though the refs were being unnecessarily nitpicky toward Ohio State the truth was the Buckeyes were putting themselves in bad situations, chasing the play and reaching after the RedHawks.
What Went Right
Resiliency: Ohio State showed a lot of character in bouncing back from those early deficits. They rallied to tie Friday’s game with two quick goals to open the third period. On Saturday they cut Miami’s lead in half before the first intermission. The teams traded goals before the RedHawks ultimately put the score out of reach.
Scoring Opportunies: Again, the Buckeyes had quite a few breakaway attempts in the series. They also had some good looks on Friday’s power plays. (And may have on Saturday, I just didn’t hear Herb or Mo note it over the radio broadcast.) Ohio State had players going to the net as well, but Williams wasn’t giving up much in the way of rebounds. Quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality, but they did put 41 shots on McKay in the second game.
Promising Moments: For short stretches in the series the Buckeyes seemed to play on a level equal to the RedHawks. They were much shorter stretches than anyone would have preferred, but I still think it’s an encouraging sign that there are better games ahead. There's no reason to write Ohio State off for the rest of the season just because they couldn’t manage to knock off the top team in the country on opening weekend.
Ohio State didn't provide any highlights of Friday's game so, if you didn't make it to the Schott, here's the good stuff you missed:
|Tuesday, Oct. 15th - 7:05 p.m.||BGSU Ice Arena (Bowling Green, OH)||N/A||BGSR||BGSU|
The Buckeyes head up to Bowling Green for the first leg of a Tuesday-Random Other Tuesday series. Like the RedHawks, the Falcons are a familiar foe repackaged as a non-conference opponent. In the great realignment of college hockey Bowling Green landed in the new look WCHA where they’re predicted by the coaches and media to finish fourth. After lingering in the CCHA’s cellar for the last few seasons the optimistic outlook for the team must be a nice change for BGSU
The main reason folks are predicting good things for this year’s Falcons is that five of their six top scorers from last season return in 2013-14. Junior forward Ryan Carpenter was expected to be the backbone of the team’s scoring this year, but he broke a finger in the exhibition game which required surgery and will keep him on the sidelines indefinitely. In his absence the Falcons will look to senior Bryce Williamson and junior trio Dan DeSalvo, Dajon Mingo, and Adam Berkle to pick up the slack.
Defensively juniors Mike Sullivan and Connor Kucera return. This will also be the first full season of college hockey for sophomore Ralf Freibergs. He had to sit out the majority of his freshman campaign to appease the NCAA (after they learned he had played against professional teams in his native Latvia) but posted a goal and six assists in eight games once he was cleared to play. The Falcons are young in net, standout senior Andrew Hammond having graduated. Sophomore Tommy Burke saw action in a third of the team’s games last season (including both games of the series against OSU), compiling a 2.57 GAA and .889 SV%. Freshman Tomas Sholl joins the teams from the NAHL's Fresno Monsters.
Both Ohio State and Bowling Green struggled against ranked opponents last weekend. On Friday the Falcons got into penalty trouble and had to fight their way out of an early hole at No. 16 Union. They held on for a 3-3 tie, but had far less success in Saturday’s game as the Dutchmen ran off four unanswered goals in the second and third periods en route to a 5-2 victory. The Buckeyes and Falcons have played to a draw in three out of their last four meetings. The teams still match up closely on paper. A healthy squad should give the Buckeyes the edge, but the Bowling Green fans are pretty jacked up about tonight's game and could boost the shorthanded Falcons to a victory.