Either the Northern Michigan team that showed up last night skipped tonight’s second period, or the Ohio State team that didn’t show up last night came out today to make up for lost time. Tonight, the Buckeyes beat the Wildcats 2-0, earning a split on the series.
“The team in front of me is playing great,” Buckeyes’ goalie Dustin Carlson said. “Last night, we came out flat and picked up a bit but it wasn’t enough and then tonight the defense was stopping passes across the crease and clearing everything out. They were blocking shots all over. I had 30 saves, but they had at least 40, so they’re doing a phenomenal job and working hard.”
The Wildcats dominated last night’s first period with 18 shots on goal, including a goal, and only allowed the Buckeyes to take a scoreless five. Tonight however, the first period was scoreless after an evenly played 20 minutes with shots going 11-7 in Northern Michigan’s favor.
“We played harder tonight, we were more competitive,” Buckeyes’ coach John Markell said. “We withstood Northern’s charge with some good goaltending. If you have that good goaltending, you’re going to weather the storm. We showed the other team we were here to win and we did that tonight against a good hockey club. They have the full compliment here and for us, we had to match that. We had to match their intensity for 60 minutes of hockey.”
The second period kicked off with a five-on-four for the Buckeyes after Wildcat Ray Kaunisto took a contact to the head elbowing call 24 seconds in. The Wildcats showed the strength of their special teams, as they killed off the penalty, only allowing two shots on goal.
Halfway through the second, the shots on goal were tied at 15. The Wildcats took two penalties a minute apart to give the Buckeyes a five-on-three that put the shots ahead 16-15 with a Buckeyes’ goal.
After Wildcats’ goalie Devan Hartigan went right to block a shot, the puck hit a defenseman and went straight out to Ohio State’s Ian Boots, who shot the puck into the open left side of the net. The assists went to John Albert and Erick Belanger.
“One of their players lost his stick and was heading back to the bench,” Boots said. “I saw him go out there and there was an open lane there and it gave me a pretty clear shot.”
With just two seconds left in the second, the Buckeyes took their lead to two after Hartigan dove to block a shot. The puck went back out to the faceoff circle, where Todd Rudasill waited to send it sailing over Hartigan’s splayed body and into the net. Boots got his second point of the night with the assist.
“Rudasill came in and chipped it over; I actually missed the net and he got the rebound,” Boots said. “It was a lucky bounce for us.”
“I made a really bad play on that goal,” Hartigan said. “There’s only seconds left and I was thinking there was a guy back there when he came across, but I didn’t recover from the first block fast enough. I shouldn’t be laying on my side when they’re taking shots.”
“We played with more energy in the second,” Markell said. “We were more physical, slowed them down a little bit. Northern is the type of team that wants to own the corners; they’re used to practicing on a bigger ice surface and they’re fast. They have the full compliment here and for us, we had to match that. We had to match their intensity in the first two periods.”
Despite a hard effort from the Wildcats, the third period was scoreless, giving the Buckeyes a 2-0 victory.
“It feels fantastic to get a shut out on the road,” Carlson said. “It usually doesn’t happen too often. It feels great to help my team out, especially on the power play. Northern Michigan is always a team to throw the puck at the net any chance they get and you always have to be on your toes, ready for everything, especially on their angle shots, because they’re always ready for those rebounds. So I just tried to stay on top of my game and control the power plays.”
Wildcats’ rookie Hartigan started his first collegiate game tonight after coming in halfway through last night’s game to relieve injured goalie Brian Stewaty. Hartigan had 28 saves in tonight’s game.
“Hartigan was put in a tough position,” Markell said. “It was the first time he had a full day to think about playing before the game. When you go in mid-game ,you expect him to play well because he was surprised, but overall he did a good job. The first goal was a five-on-three and the second was a last minute thing, but the defense got beat wide. I thought he did a good job and gave them the opportunity to win the game.”
“The truth of the matter is that Devan gave us the chance to win, we just couldn’t score,” Wildcats’ coach Walt Kyle said. “We had a lot of opportunities but didn’t get the puck in. At the end of the third, we had some great chances but they closed us out. We gave them three goals on the weekend and we ended up losing a game. Defensively, I thought we played well and our penalty kill was good. We have to continue to work towards the net and create more chances.”
“It was pretty exciting to start a game,” Hartigan said. “I thought it was a tough game for both teams and we just got outplayed today. There’s not much the boys could do, so we just have to regroup and get ready for the next one.”