Buckeyes Get Critical League Win

Ohio State faced a near must-win situation given its place in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association standings, and the Buckeyes responded in more ways than one Saturday night. The Buckeyes came back from an early deficit and finally found some offensive touch, posting a 5-2 win against Lake Superior State.

To get out of a scoring funk, the Ohio State men's hockey team has talked of getting to the front of the net and getting some lucky bounces.

Both happened Saturday on Senior Night in Value City Arena. Seniors Corey Toy, Sergio Somma and Peter Boyd along with Danny Dries and Chris Crane scored as the Buckeyes came back from allowing two goals in the opening 67 seconds to post a 5-2 win against Lake Superior State.

It was just the second time in nine games the Buckeyes scored more than two goals and snapped the Lakers' seven-game streak of allowing two or less, and the victory allowed OSU to avenge a tight tie and shootout loss the night before.

"Certainly at times you're going to go through (slumps)," head coach Mark Osiecki said. "Everyone goes through it. It's how you're going to respond. I think that was the main thing. I think our guys, we put it on the board, ‘Redemption,' and I think our guys have been resilient all year and they responded very well."

Ohio State (15-15-3, 10-13-3-2) moved to 35 points, only two behind the Lakers with two games to play. The ninth-place Buckeyes will finish with a two-game home set Thursday and Friday with Ferris State – who they sit only three points behind – while the Lakers will host third-place Miami.

The Buckeyes also snapped a 1-6-1 run and a 0-2-1 streak.

"Stuff hasn't been going well for us," Somma said. "We feel like we've been playing well at times. Obviously we're struggling scoring goals and to get a few tonight feels good as a team."

Somma led the way with three points – including the 100th of his career – while Toy and Dries each finished with a goal and an assist. OSU's flagging power play went 2 for 3 as it was finally a night for the Buckeyes, who had only 11 goals in their last eight games, to find the back of the net.

The reshuffled first two lines included breaking up Somma and classmate John Albert, who had been mainstays of the Buckeye attack all season. The move worked, as Somma's grouping with Dries and Kyle Reed as well as the trio of Boyd, Albert and Cory Schneider helped OSU generate the offense to put 43 shots on goaltender Kevin Kapalka.

The Buckeyes got some breaks, as Toy's first-period goal had eyes as it sailed through traffic from the right point, while Dries gave the Buckeyes the lead in the second period on a bouncing puck right in front after Zach Sternberg fanned on a clearing attempt. But more importantly in the eyes of the team, the Buckeyes got to the front of the net, with Somma, Dries and Crane scoring from close range.

"I think they're garbage goals," Osiecki said. "I mean that in a positive way. That's where you have to get to, that we're asking our guys to get to and be relentless around that area."

It didn't look like it would be the Buckeyes' day when the Lakers scored twice in the opening 1:07. Colin Campbell tallied 37 seconds into the game on the power play, though replays clearly showed he illegally directed Fred Cassiani's pass in with his skate, and Rick Schofield converted a cross-ice feed from Will Acton 30 seconds later to make it 2-0 and dull any of the Senior Night excitement.

"All of a sudden, the puck is in the back of our net and you're going, ‘How are our guys going to respond to that?' and (it's) a questionable goal," Osiecki said. "All of a sudden they score a second one – how are we going to respond? I thought our upperclassmen responded unbelievably well."

Ohio State first turned up its physical play – all the way down to 5-8 sophomore Paul Kirtland, who threw the game's biggest check – and things quickly turned around. Toy got the opening tally at 8:25 of the first to cut into the Lake Superior State lead, and OSU's 17-8 shots margin in the first period provided a fair picture of the frame.

Somma tied the score 4:42 into the second, as Albert knocked down a clearing attempt on the power play behind the net and quickly fed the Pittsburgh native in the slot for his team-best 17th goal.

Dries broke an eight-game goal-less streak and gave OSU the lead at the 12:00 mark of the second, scoring glove side after the rebound of Somma's shot popped up into the slot and evaded Sternberg's clearing try.

The Buckeyes also dominated the third, with Crane – who had a team-high seven shots – jamming in a rebound on the power play at 10:17 and Boyd getting an empty-net goal with 5:03 to play when Lake Superior State head coach Jim Roque pulled Kapalka to try to generate some offense.

From there, the rest of the game was a fitting Senior Day tribute, and Osiecki inserted fourth-year goaltender Dustin Carlson in for his first action of the year in the final 3:30.

"Those guys, they've done everything we've asked all year, no doubt about it," Osiecki said. "And if they haven't we've let them know, but they've done everything we've asked all year."

The Lakers fell to 10-13-9 overall and 8-10-8-5 in the league, losing in regulation for only the second time in 11 games.

"I thought Ohio State deserved to win tonight," Roque said. "I thought they battled hard, competed, won more battles. I thought we looked tired tonight. We just didn't' seem to have a lot of mojo, juice – whatever you want to call it."

Game Notes
LSSU's first-period power-play goal was the first given up by OSU since Jan. 29 at Alaska. The Buckeyes had gone five games without allowing a PPG. … Heeter finishes with 25 saves while Carlson had one. … The attendance was 3,767. … Toy was plus-2 to lead the Buckeyes. … Seniors Toy, Kyle Reed, Albert, Chris Reed, C.J. Severyn, Shane Sims, Boyd, Carlson and Somma were honored pregame.


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