Now, the Buckeyes are a different team. After going down 2-0 8:57 into Friday night's game in Value City Arena against St. Lawrence, the Buckeyes didn't hit the panic button. Instead, they built their game through the next 50 minutes and eventually took a 3-2, overtime win over the visiting Saints.
"I think we've turned the corner," captain Matt McIlvane said. "We're able to put the bad play behind us and move forward. I don't think we're too proud of our first period. I think we kind of got away from what we do well, but we were able to regroup and come back."
Two freshmen keyed the Buckeye comeback. Kyle Reed got his third goal of the year with 2:26 to play and Peter Boyd tallied 56 seconds into the extra period. Boyd earned his fourth tally of the campaign when he took the rebound of a shot from the point on a delayed penalty and roofed it over Saint netminder Alex Petizian.
"It was just a good shot from the point," Boyd said. "I think it hit (Tommy) Goebel or McIlvane or Serge (Sergio Somma). It squirted out to me and I was fortunate enough to place it where I wanted to go with it."
The finish was quite the turnaround from the start. The Buckeyes took two penalties within the first 2:58 and paid for it 4:40 into the game when Mike McKenzie scored, putting the rebound of a shot by Matt Generous behind OSU's Joseph Palmer, who lived up to the surname of the original shooter by not controlling the original shot.
Just over four minutes later, the Saints (5-8-3, 2-4-2 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference) scored on a similar goal, this time with Jordan Hack quickly stuffing the rebound of a Derek Keller shot behind Palmer.
But the Buckeyes did not roll over, much like they had during a six-game stretch in November in which they allowed at least a three-goal run in every game. The game might have changed 4:10 into the second when OSU senior Tom Fritsche picked the pocket of SLU defenseman Jared Ross at the Saints' blue line. Fritsche skated in on a 2-on-0 with Goebel and fed his Parma youth teammate for an easy tap-in, his team-leading eighth goal of the year.
The game sat that way – especially thanks to Palmer, who twice denied Hack a second goal on odd-man rushes during the second period – until Reed's equalizer, set up by another freshman in Patrick Schafer. The latter Buckeye held the puck on the left goal line before a cross-crease feed to Reed. Petizian stoned Reed's first chance but could not stop the second.
The win was the third in four games for Ohio State (5-11-1, 2-8 Central Collegiate Hockey Association), which head coach John Markell said didn't play its best game during its first contest after exams but did enough to get the victory.
"I had a number of guys that were a step off," Markell said. "Now, we will take that win on an exam week, that's for sure."
On the other side, Saints head coach Joe Marsh, who skippers a team that much like the Buckeyes once sat in the top 20, was left wondering how his team let its early lead slip through its fingers.
"When it came down to push and shove, we kind of bent a little too much there," Marsh said. "It's tough to get scored on that late."
The teams play game two of the set tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m. at Value City Arena. The game will be OSU's last home game before the holiday break.