Somma, Heeter Pace Rivalry Win

The Ohio State men's hockey team's winning streak is getting hard to ignore. The Buckeyes made it five in a row with a rivalry win Friday night, beating Miami by a 1-0 score in Value City Arena. The win moved OSU to 3-0 in Ohio Cup play, and the Buckeyes can clinch the traveling trophy with a win Saturday night in the rematch.

For Mark Osiecki, earning a win in his first game against rival Miami (Ohio) as Ohio State men's hockey coach might mean a higher cell phone bill.

In the moments after Ohio State finished a nationally televised, 1-0 win against the No. 7-ranked RedHawks, Osiecki's cell phone blew up.

"It's funny to have these games on television from the standpoint of I have quite a few hockey people out there that send me texts immediately after the game," he said. "They're saying that they're seeing us from the first broadcast to this one here, they're saying, ‘You're getting better.'"

How much better? The win against the perennially powerful RedHawks was Ohio State's fifth in a row and improved the team to 11-8-1 on the year (6-6-1-1 CCHA).

In addition, it was a bit of a famous win, as Ohio State had posted an 0-6-3 record in its previous nine games in Value City Arena against Miami dating back to a Jan. 10, 2006, win. The last time OSU had beaten Miami in Columbus was in the title game of the 2006 Ohio Hockey Classic in Nationwide Arena.

"It's great to get a win here, their building, anywhere," said goaltender Cal Heeter, the game's first star with 40 saves. "It's perfect to beat Miami, but tonight is just one game."

Fans are starting to take notice too. A festive 5,154 – including a lively student section – were in the building and ringing cowbells handed out before the game, providing an excellent atmosphere for what was a back-and-forth, entertaining contest that came down to the final seconds.

"That was probably one of the best crowds I've seen in my 12 years at Ohio State," said Miami head coach Enrico Blasi, whose team fell to 11-7-3 (8-5-2-1). "It's electric. It's fun for both teams."

The teams have met four times apiece in recent years – and sometimes more adding in playoff and tournament contests – but are due for only two meetings in 2010-11, perhaps adding a little extra juice. Miami came in smarting from a loss to St. Cloud State at the Florida College Classic, while OSU was on a high from starting the 2011 part of the slate by capturing the Vermont Catamount Cup.

Both sides were into it early, but Miami had the first-period jump with a 13-5 shot advantage. The RedHawks also posted the first great scoring chance, but Heeter slid to his left and turned aside Carter Camper's deflection only three minutes into the game.

Chances such as those in the early going set up Heeter for one of the best performances of his career and his third shutout in an OSU sweater.

"I'd say the game started off pretty good," he said. "They had a few shots early and for me, I think that always helps me focus in, when I get tested early. That way I sort of get right into the game."

He was just as good in the second as the game started to open up. Heeter and Miami starter Cody Reichard – a Celina, Ohio, native – were on their games in that frame, with Heeter most notably stopping a Reilly Smith shot from the slot and Reichard excellently parrying Peter Boyd's deflection aside near the midway point.

But Reichard couldn't make the stop on the game's pivotal play. With Ohio State holding a power play late in the period, he kicked out John Albert's shot with the left pad, but Sergio Somma was crashing down from the left side and drove the rebound into the net with 8.9 seconds left in the period for the only goal. The tally was the senior's team-high 12th.

Heeter stood tall in the third, turning aside 16 Miami shots. He was at his best as OSU had to kill a 57-second 5-on-3 in the second half of the period, denying Chris Wideman on a shot from the point and then sliding to his right, spread-eagle, to stone Pat Cannone at the post.

From there, Miami's offense – which entered averaging 3.8 goals per game and boasting the nation's leading scorer in Carter Camper – was held at bay. The RedHawks' last best chance came with two minutes to play, but Heeter held strong on Camper's deflection from in front of the crease.

"Cal played extremely well for us," Osiecki said. "We give a game puck out, and he was the player of the game for our team."

The other side was just as complimentary to the OSU netminder, who has started every game for the Buckeyes this season.

"Ohio State is a pretty good team and their goaltender played pretty well," Blasi said. "Am I disappointed in the loss? Yeah, but I don't think you can question either team in effort tonight. So you tip your hat to Ohio State. They did a great job."

The teams rematch Saturday night in Value City Arena at 7 p.m. With a single point in the game, Ohio State will reclaim the Ohio Cup, the traveling intrastate trophy sponsored by BSB, from Miami.

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