For 60 minutes, portions of that team were back for the Buckeyes Saturday night against Western Michigan (4-8, 2-6).
The Buckeye offense wasn't quite as prolific but the defense - which allowed only 16 shots – and netminder Joseph Palmer were better. The result was a complete game for the Buckeyes that ended with a 3-0 win for OSU in front of 1,985 fans in Lawson Ice Arena.
"I thought we were getting to pucks first," head coach John Markell said. "We outhit them. The things we challenged them with the marks they had to meet, we almost met them all: keep them under 20 shots, get 30 ourselves, outhit them – which we did – and win the plus-minus in the specialty teams."
Ohio State earned its first Central Collegiate Hockey Association win after seven losses, the worst conference start in OSU history, and snapped that 0-10-1 streak.
"It's a lot more fun than going in there and trying to figure out what happened," Palmer said outside a joyous locker room blaring with music. "We're working hard and we're getting better each day."
The Buckeye goal scorers were freshman Brad Gorham, who netted the first goal of his career in scarlet and gray, sophomore Mathieu Picard and freshman Kyle Reed. It was Gorham who got the Ohio State attack off to a good start with a goal 2:46 into the game, then Picard quieted any thoughts of a Bronco comeback with a goal just 63 seconds into the third. Reed added a goal with 5:38 left that went in off the skate of a Bronco defenseman.
From there, it was up to Palmer to stave off what is traditionally a dangerous WMU attack. With the students off for Thanksgiving break, the Lawson Lunatics weren't there to support their side and WMU as a result never got much momentum going.
When they did, Palmer stood tall. He stoned Patrick Galivan's close chance late in the first period when the junior took advantage of the fact that OSU defenseman Shane Sims was without a stick, then made a huge save on Matt Clackson when the Bronco put together a shorthanded breakaway in the third.
"I thought I played pretty good last night," said Palmer, who did look good Friday but was beaten by two odd-man rushes and an empty-net goal in the 4-2 WMU win. "Being a goaltender, you have to build off positive things from one game to the next. I couldn't really hang my head after a loss."
His play made the Buckeye offensive output stand up. Gorham got the Buckeyes off on the right foot, but it might have been freshman defenseman Corey Toy who made the play. Toy caught a WMU clearing attempt at the top of the zone, then drilled a slap shot that was stopped by Bronco sophomore goalie Riley Gill. Camped on the doorstep, Gorham was able to poke home the rebound.
"I think that was a huge confidence builder," Gorham said. "We've had a lot of bad bounces lately and that was a good way to start the game off."
After numerous second-period chances – including a shot by Peter Boyd that rang the post – went awry for OSU, Picard made no mistakes early in the third when he put in the pass from captain Matt McIlvane. Reed added a goal, the second of his career, when his breakout chance was stopped by Gill but deflected into the net off the skate of backtracking defenseman Nathan Ansell.
Ohio State (3-10-1) returns to the ice with a Nov. 30-Dec. 1 series at Michigan.