The Ohio State Buckeyes continued their strong play of late with a 6-1 victory over the Army Black Knights in front of 4,846 in Value City Arena on Friday night in the first round of the fifth annual Ohio Hockey Classic.
Ohio State (12-6-1) has now won seven games in a row and 10 of their last 11. Army (4-12-1) has lost three in a row and eight of their last nine.
The Buckeyes got off to a rough start but struck quickly and often in the first period. Ohio State senior Corey Elkins got his first of three points of the night when he scored off a Corey Toy rebound that was misplayed by Army goalie Josh Kassel 5:25 into the game.
â€œWe knew we weren’t going to be incredibly sharp off the bat, so I just tried to get to the net and got a good rebound,â€ Elkins said.
OSU scored 40 seconds later when forward C.J. Severyn dished a cross-crease pass to Mathieu Picard to give the Buckeyes the 2-0 lead. Just over two minutes later, Buckeye forward Ian Boots scored when he flipped a shot past the glove of Kassel.
â€œYou want to take advantage of them being fresh to this building as they have not played here before and they really carried the play the first five minutes,â€ Ohio State coach John Markell said. â€œWe took care of our opportunities and did a good job of finishing.â€
â€œWe had talked about, any time you’re on the road, the first five minutes are important,â€ Army coach Brian Riley said. â€œI thought we did a good job. After the first five minutes, we were playing pretty well. The next three or four minutes, we were all of a sudden down three. Coming on the road, our plan was to make it a 20 minute game and have a chance in the third, and we didn’t.â€
Army got their only goal of the game with six minutes remaining in the first when Scott Warner’s wrist shot from the boards near the blue line curved past the glove of Buckeye goaltender Dustin Carlson.
Hunter Bishop added the second period’s only goal three minutes in after a well-placed pass from Elkins on a 3-on-2 opportunity. Army outshot Ohio State 13-12 in the middle period.
The Buckeyes added notches midway through the third from senior captain Zach Pelletier and John Albert, just 1:34 apart.
After getting off to a shaky start, Army’s Kassel settled down a bit only allowing two goals before giving way to third-stringer Joe Spacklen, who allowed the Buckeyes’ sixth goal. Carlson continued his hot play, allowing just 15 goals in the last 10 games.
â€œ[Carlson] was really composed and he didn’t give us any second chances,â€ Riley said.
Ohio State will play Clarkson Saturday evening in the OHC championship game. Army will play No. 2 Miami, which lost to Clarkson in the other first-round game. The Buckeyes have played in the championship game of all five Ohio Hockey Classics. The Golden Knights comes into Saturday’s game winning their first game in eight weeks thanks to the play of goalie Paul Karpowich.
â€œI think it will be a different type of game,â€ Markell said of Saturday’s title match. â€œTheir goaltender played well and gave them a chance to win [against Miami]. We’re going to try to win a championship. Right now, we have to solve a very good goalie and it is going to take hard work.â€
â€œWe knew that Clarkson is a good team,” said Elkins. “I think maybe we had the idea that Miami would win . . . we will be ready for tomorrow.”