Icers Finish Sweep Of Miami, Clinch Ohio Cup

Mark Osiecki's first year as Ohio State men's hockey head coach is coming along nicely. After a slow start, Ohio State won its sixth in a row Saturday night as five third-period goals keyed a 5-2 win against rival and No. 7 Miami. The win clinched BSB's Ohio Cup trophy for the Buckeyes, who finished 4-0 against in-state competition.

It's often a cliché to say that a locker room speech can turn around a sporting event, but it was reality for the Ohio State hockey team on Saturday night.

After his team played a listless period and took a 2-0 deficit into the second intermission against No. 7 Miami, head coach Mark Osiecki brought out the hairdryer and tore into his players.

"He just came into the locker room and basically told us to look in the mirror," senior John Albert said. "He didn't think that our second period was very good at all, which it wasn't. He really gave it to us, which was good because it got us all on the same page."

"It was heartfelt," Osiecki added. "We haven't said much between periods for quite a while but we did there. The best thing was our response in the third."

Ohio State responded by coming out for the final frame and tearing into the RedHawks, much to the delight of the season-high 6,951 in attendance in Value City Arena. Albert scored twice and added an assist while Danny Dries and Sergio Somma had a goal and a helper apiece as the Buckeyes scored five times in the third to clinch a 5-2 win against their in-state rivals.

The win was Ohio State's sixth in a row, moving them to 12-8-1 on the year and 7-6-1-1 in the CCHA and a tie for sixth place. OSU also moved to 4-0 against in-state opposition this year and clinched the Ohio Cup, BSB's traveling trophy for intrastate competition, for the second time in three years with an undefeated mark.

"Hats off to our players," Osiecki said of the trophy win. "They should get up for that."

It was also OSU's first sweep of Miami (11-8-3, 8-6-2-1 CCHA) since October 2004, a home-and-home series to start the season that the Buckeyes won thanks to 9-3 and 2-1 wins. OSU's last home sweep of the RedHawks came in December 2002.

It was all thanks to the third-period avalanche, which started when Somma scored at 2:21 on the power play. The Buckeyes' man-advantage unit had been listless all night, but Dries found Somma all alone at the right post with a fantastic diagonal pass from the left circle, and Somma buried his team-high 13th through Connor Knapp's five-hole to cut Miami's lead to 2-1.

"They got that power-play goal, we took a stupid penalty and away they went," Miami head coach Enrico Blasi said.

Indeed, it didn't take long for the Buckeyes to erase Miami's advantage. With the teams skating 4-on-4, Albert came in along the right-wing boards and fired a beautiful cross-rink pass to Brandon Martell trailing the play. The sophomore defenseman unleashed a one-timer from the left circle that beat Knapp to tie the score at 5:24.

"We work on it all the time in practice, the weakside D coming up high in the slot," Martell said after scoring his first career goal. "(Albert) just stopped and he put it on a platter. I knew (the defenseman) would be coming across on his knees, so I tried to put it upstairs and it found its way in there."

Albert was on the receiving end of a sublime pass a few minutes later as he gave OSU a 3-2 lead. The Buckeyes struggled through the previous shift, taking an icing penalty that resulted in Osiecki calling a timeout, and the coaching move worked like a charm when the energized Buckeyes won the draw and raced up the ice.

Somma's breakout pass from right to left sprung Albert in with plenty of space, and as he entered the circle Albert wound up with a mighty slap shot that beat Knapp cleanly at 9:55.

Albert's next one was more on the gritty side. Miami pulled Knapp with 1:30 to play, but Albert blocked a shot, collected the puck and slid it into the empty cage with one hand with 1:11 to go before leaping into the boards in celebration.

"John Albert blocking a shot at a key moment – we're up by a goal – and he gets rewarded," Osiecki said. "I can't stress it enough because that's the style of hockey we will play and we want our guys to play."

Dries got another empty-netter, his 12th tally of the year, at 19:27 to set the final margin.

After earning the Friday night win, Ohio State was dominating in the first period. The Buckeyes kept Miami without a shot through the first 10 minutes, but didn't have a goal to show for it.

The RedHawks then got on the board first at 15:11 on the power play as Alden Hirschfeld beat Cal Heeter from the left circle, notching Miami's first goal in Value City Arena in more than 135 minutes of game play.

Miami doubled the advantage 2:48 into the second, also on the power play, but it took an unconventional goal. Andy Miele took a pass from Carter Camper – the nation's leading scorer – in the right circle and unleashed a shot that appeared to go off the far post, but play was stopped 30 seconds later and a lengthy review showed the puck actually went through the twine inside the post.

"Absolutely not," Albert said when asked if he had seen that before.

"I shot one through the net (once). It caught on fire," Somma quipped.

Joking aside, the goal seemed to take the steam out of Ohio State, but the offense took over in the third and Heeter was solid when needed on a night the front row of the student section wore shirts spelling out the message "GO HEETER."

"It's another step," Osiecki said. "Really, what we're talking to our team about, enjoy it right now, understand that feeling in the third and what it took and how they had to play hard for each other."

Notes: Miami was 2 for 4 on the power play, while OSU was 1 for 3 with its only shot being Somma's goal. … Knapp had 29 saves while Heeter had 23. … The winning streak is Ohio State's longest since an 11-game jaunt from November 2008 to January 2009.

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