The Buckeyes, the No. 2 seed in the CCHA tournament, head to Detroit this weekend for the CCHA Super Six at Joe Louis Arena.
Ohio State beat No. 11 seed Ferris State in the first round, winning the best-of-three series 2-1.
In the decisive game three on Sunday at OSU's Value City Arena, the Buckeyes were trailing 4-2 with less than 14 minutes left in the third period. However, Matt Beaudoin scored shorthanded at 9:55 to cut the FSU lead to one and Jason DeSantis tied the game with a goal with just 50 seconds left.
Freshman John Dingle then scored the game winner in overtime. Dingle's goal came 4:40 into the extra session, as he scored following a shot by Rod Pelley that deflected off Bryce Anderson to Dingle at the side of the net.
Ohio State will get a quarterfinal round bye at the Super Six. Michigan is the No.1 seed and will also get a first round bye.
The other four teams in the field are: No. 3 seed Northern Michigan, No. 4 seed Nebraska-Omaha, No. 5 seed Michigan State, and No. 6 seed Alaska-Fairbanks.
Ohio State will take on the highest remaining seed from the quarterfinals at 8:05 p.m. Friday, preceded by Michigan taking on the lowest remaining seed at 4:35 p.m.
Ohio State finished the regular season ranked No. 8 and No. 10 in the nation by the two major polls. The Buckeyes also finished in second place in the CCHA. But that resume is not necessarily enough to get them in the 16-team NCAA Tournament as an at-large team.
Ohio State won the CCHA Super Six last year and head coach John Markell is looking for a repeat performance and an automatic bid.
"What we have to have is a sense of urgency here," Markell said. "Obviously, I'm not happy with the way we played this weekend. But I am happy with the outcome. I think you saw our team playing hockey more or less on Friday night (a 4-2 OSU win), not on Saturday (a 1-0 Ferris State win in OT). The last 10 minutes of the game Sunday night, we finally played with the urgency you need to be able to play with in order to be successful at this level. It was a great learning experience for our kids and they're going to have to have that this weekend. And if we win, we take care of matters."
Markell was asked if he thinks the Buckeyes need to win out to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
"I don't know; it depends," he said. "There are too many variables. All I'm concerned about is getting us in a position to win our league championship. Now that's our goal and we knew we had to go through that first. We had a good season in order to host at home – you saw the effects of that. Anybody can play at this time of the year. Obviously these teams have earned the right to be there in the Super Six and we have an opportunity on Friday night to win a hockey game and move on to the championship and hopefully things will take care of themselves. If you keep winning, you'll be in it."
This is exam week at Ohio State. That does not fall at a good time for the hockey team.
"We're worried about frame of mind right now," Markell said. "We've got guys taking exams this week. We'll have a bit of a skate here (Tuesday) and Wednesday I won't even be here. We have a press conference up there, and the next time I will see them is on Thursday. It gives us an extra day – it's a little different than last year – and we need that extra day. We just have to have a sense of urgency. We can't be happy with the way things went this weekend in our play. We're a better hockey team than that."
If Ohio State wins on Friday, it could set up a finals matchup with Michigan. The teams split their two meetings this season.
"Well, it might not be the Wolverines," Markell warned. "They beat a team 10-1 one night, and then beat Notre Dame 1-0 in overtime the next night. So, you can just see when teams play that way, it's very, very difficult. It's going to be difficult up there.
"As long as we play our game… I want our team playing our game and I think we've been successful with that all year long. That's the way we're going to have to play to be successful up there. That's what I'm thinking about. Our style of play. What is OSU hockey and that style of play. That's what we need to put our stamp on."
* Pelley, a junior forward, leads the team with 22 goals, and is tied with freshman forward Tom Fritsche for the club's point lead at 40.
Pelley says this weekend is crucial for the Buckeyes. They don't want to be sitting around hoping to get an at-large bid.
"Yeah, pretty much," he said. "We're going up there to win two hockey games and that's basically what our mindset is going to be. No matter who we play, we need to win. It's basically one game elimination from here on out. Going into the Super Six, our main goal is to win the championship. We have to keep in mind that every period we're going to have to win."
But shouldn't a top 10 team already have its card punched for the NCAA Tournament?
"Yeah, it is a tough way to look at it when you have 26 wins and you're on the bubble of getting in the NCAA Tournament," Pelley said. "I think we've worked pretty hard all season and as a team, we feel that we should be in the tournament. It's going to be up to this weekend coming up to determine that."
Pelley would like a shot at the Wolverines in the finals.
"Personally, I like playing Michigan," he said. "Guys elevate their games when they play Michigan. Just the school rivalry and stuff. I'm looking forward to the opportunity."
Although the Buckeyes were on the verge of elimination Sunday night against Ferris State, Pelley never lost hope.
"I think our lives were on the line and it was desperate hockey," he said. "Personally, like me talking to some other guys on the team, even down 4-2 with however many minutes left, I still felt that there was no way we were losing the game. Sometimes you can get that feeling, but sometimes you don't have that feeling and you know that things just aren't going right. But, I don't know, me and a couple other guys just had that feeling that there's no way we're going to lose. Guys stepping up and it's just character and desperate hockey and survival."
Ohio State would like to play with that sense of urgency all the time.
"Definitely," Pelley said. "I think if we can play three periods like how we played there in the third period of Ohio State hockey, we're going to be a tough team to beat. I feel that we can be very good the whole way."
Pelley, a former walk-on and now one of the unquestioned team leaders, gave his keys to victory this weekend.
"I think it's a combination of everything," he said. " Everything we've been working on since the beginning of the season. It's mentally, it's playing our system. I think at this time of the year, it's not a matter of guys not showing up. I think everyone is going to show up and play hard because it's playoffs and so much is one the line. But, I think it's about everything coming together and just sticking to your system and being mentally there, more so than physically."