Eric Beiersdorfer / Lantern Photographer
With a 2-1 lead after two periods, the Ohio State men’s ice hockey team (5-7-1, 2-5-1-1 CCHA) seemed poised to “sweep” a two-game series with the No. 14-ranked University of Alaska-Fairbanks (8-5-3, 5-4-3-2 CCHA) Saturday at Nationwide Arena.
But the Buckeyes quickly lost control of the game and gave up four third-period goals, including three in the final 5:30 of play, as Alaska skated to a 5-2 win.
“It was a good team effort tonight,” Alaska coach Dallas Ferguson said. “We were missing a couple of guys but we feel like we have good depth at our positions. The guys did what they had to do to be successful.”
OSU senior forward John Albert gave OSU a 1-0 lead with his wrap-around goal just 2:16 into the first period. Freshman forward Alex Lippincott gave the Buckeyes a 2-0 lead in the second period, and OSU appeared to be in control of the game.
Momentum quickly shifted to Alaska’s favor when OSU junior forward Danny Dries received a major penalty for hitting an Alaska player from behind. The Buckeyes had to play a man down for five minutes. Alaska scored on the power play, the start of a 5-0 run. After the goal, OSU senior defenseman Corey Toy had to sit two minutes for a slashing penalty, giving Alaska a 5-3 man advantage.
OSU coach Mark Osiecki said the two penalties in the second period changed the game in Alaska’s favor.
“The difference in the game was the five-minute major and the two-minute minor in the first 40 minutes,” he said. “The penalties killed us. We wasted so much energy killing the penalties that it wore on us the rest of the game.”
Despite the disappointing loss, OSU did not leave the series empty-handed.
In the first game of the series Friday, the teams skated to a 3-3 tie, and OSU won in a shootout. OSU trailed 3-2 into the final minute of the game, but with just 10 seconds remaining, Dries scored for the Buckeyes to force overtime. Neither team scored in the five-minute overtime period, so the teams went into a shootout.
OSU goalie Cal Heeter stopped all three of Alaska’s shootout attempts as Dries scored for OSU, giving the Buckeyes a shootout victory, 1-0. The game is considered a tie in the NCAA standings, but the shootout win benefits OSU in the CCHA conference standings.
The Buckeyes will now turn their attention to Michigan as OSU starts a two-game series with the Wolverines on Friday. Michigan is second in the CCHA, but Albert said OSU will be up to the challenge if the Buckeyes play as one unit.
“We have to play as a team. We can’t play as individuals,” he said. “If we do that, I hope we can get two wins next weekend.”