Despite 36 shots on goal – and three more chances in the skills competition – the Buckeyes found trouble solving Lake Superior State freshman Kevin Kapalka. The result was a 1-1 tie followed by a Lakers' shootout win that left OSU at least three points adrift from a first-round home-ice spot with three games to play.
OSU fell to 1-6-1 in its last eight games with only 11 goals in that span, but it wasn't for a lack of trying.
"We threw a lot of things at the net," head coach Mark Osiecki said. "Their goaltender played very well for them. We generated some offense there. We have to find a way to the back of the net, that's the bottom line."
John Albert scored for OSU, while Ben Power had LSSU's regulation tally and Kyle Jean scored an NHL-caliber shootout goal to give the Lakers the extra point.
The Buckeyes stayed three behind Alaska – whose home game with Michigan State was not completed as of this posting – and four behind Northern Michigan for seventh. In sixth place, Lake Superior State (10-12-9, 8-9-8-5) moved five points ahead of the Buckeyes with the rematch Saturday night.
"It doesn't go down as a loss but it certainly feels like one," said OSU goaltender Cal Heeter, who had 27 saves. "We really could use the extra point here toward the end of the year."
The first period was without some energy as only a late arriving 3,179 were in Value City Arena, but Ohio State (14-15-3, 9-13-3-2) provided some late in the period when Albert got on the board. Skating on the reshuffled first line with Sergio Somma and Kyle Reed, Albert had time in the right circle and blasted a shot past Kapalka at 16:31 of the frame.
Peter Boyd moved down to the second line with Danny Dries and Chris Crane, and that unit provided jump without being able to get on the board.
"You have to try to spread that out," Osiecki said of the offensive burden. "We can't just be a one-line team. Right now we have to find a way to get some balanced scoring or get some other people to generate things. I think by doing that we did."
Dries – who seemed to be everywhere on the ice in the opening 40 minutes – hit the post only 2:15 in on the power play, the first in a series of near misses for OSU. Senior C.J. Severyn also hit the post moments before Albert's goal, and Domenic Monardo had a first-period tally disallowed when he kicked a rebound past Heeter.
Ohio State started the second period well but a series of stoppages in play dulled the momentum, and Lake Superior State got the tying goal with only 1:29 left in the frame. A shot from the left point by Matt Cowie was knocked down in front by Tyson Hobbins; Heeter couldn't find the rebound but Power could, and he slid it in stick side to make it 1-all.
The third period was nervy on both ends. Ohio State dominated early – Corey Toy and Reed had the best chances from in close – but slowly the Lakers got back into it.
Jean nearly had a shot crawl over Heeter with 8:25 to go, and Cowie drilled the crossbar on a slap shot from the blue line with 3:53 showing on the clock. Jean then deflected a shot that Heeter did well to trap in his equipment with 2:12 to play.
Alex Carlson had two chances in the final minute and Reed deflected Boyd's centering pass wide in OT as the Buckeyes had their chances as well.
In the shootout, Somma, Dries and Albert were unable to score past Kapalka. Heeter denied Monardo and Power before Jean skated in, faked left, stopped on a dime and slid the puck into the open net on the right.
Parents of the Ohio State players in attendance were recognized on the ice during the second intermission. … OSU freshman forward Alex Szczechura left the bench to go to the locker room during the third period but returned. … LSSU was scoreless on four chances on the power play as the Buckeyes kept the opposition off the board on the man advantage for the fifth game in a row.