Said Buckeye head man John Markell, "I saw some stuff that impressed me. Guys were flying back in the zone, laying the body."
Harvard head coach Ted Donato: "To be perfectly honest with you, there weren't many things we did that we were even average. We just played poorly."
From there, it's not hard to figure out that the Buckeyes controlled the game, scoring the final three goals on the way to a 4-2 win over the visiting 15th-ranked Crimson (6-5-2) in front of 4,298 fans. The Buckeyes will face in-state rival and No. 1-ranked Miami (Ohio) Sunday night at 8:05 p.m. for the title that the Buckeyes are defending and that the RedHawks won in 2005.
But the fact that Ohio State (6-13-2) can capture its own tournament pales in comparison to the fact that the Buckeyes finally played an all-around home game after going 1-7 in VCA before the holiday break. The Buckeyes, a team that has 14 freshmen on its roster and played 10 of them, hope that the freshness and tempo the youngsters displayed will continue into the second half of the year.
"The guys came back, and you want them to mature," Markell said. "Unfortunately, the freshmen have to mature quickly because there's 10 of them in the lineup. It's nice when they go home to be with their families and they kind of want that, and they come back and they're refreshed. They're excited. They know more about it now."
Two of OSU's goals, those by Kyle Reed and Shane Sims, were scored by first-year players, while seniors Jason DeSantis and Matt McIlvane also tallied. Freshman Dustin Carlson, who only received the start because sophomore Joseph Palmer is in the Czech Republic with the United States team at the World Junior Championships, made 35 saves on the way to his first career win.
"I want to congratulate him on his first win under these circumstances," Markell said. "The kid's looking for opportunities to play and there it was."
Things did not start so well for Carlson though. He was scored upon 4:32 into the game when Harvard's Michael Biega put in Jimmy Fraser's rebound to make it 1-0. Reed scored his fourth goal with 53.5 seconds left in the first, but Harvard's Brian McCafferty answered with 2.7 seconds left in the period when he put in another rebound that Carlson had let loose. The final two goals were scored as the teams skated 4-on-4.
The freshman was not shaken but knew he needed to improve.
"Between the first and second I decided that I need to really pick it up because that wasn't going to cut it, especially if I wanted to play at this level," Carlson said.
He lived up to his words, stopping Harvard's final 25 shots. The Buckeyes drew even just 33 seconds into the second, still on the 4-on-4, when DeSantis' slap shot from the top of the zone pinballed off of two Crimson players and behind goaltender Kyle Richter.
Getting the second assist on the goal was senior Tom Fritsche, and the point gave him 100 for his career. He and classmate Tommy Goebel were on the ice for McCafferty's goal at the end of the first.
"Big goal," Fritsche said. "We knew we had to get that one back. We said we wanted to get it back on the first shift."
Sims scored 7:40 into the second, making his first career goal the game winner. The Buckeyes rushed up the ice on a 3-on-2, and freshman John Albert found Sims as the trailer, making it a 4-on-2. The freshman defenseman did not hesitate, ripping the puck past Richter long from the left.
Carlson saved the day with five minutes left, denying Nick Coskren from close range on the right, before captain McIlvane scored on a power play with 1:42 left by putting in Nick Biondo's rebound.
Carlson moved to 1-1 following his second career start.
"It was great to get another opportunity finally," he said. "I was so excited. I love winning. I just felt great right away."
Miami 2, St. Cloud State 1
Fifty-three minutes of lackluster play still was enough for No. 1 Miami to get past No. 16 St. Cloud State in the OHC opener.
Junior Justin Mercier scored with 6:44 left to tie the score and Jarod Palmer netted the game winner 1:20 into overtime as the RedHawks (17-2) claimed a 2-1 win over the Huskies.
"It looked like a sluggish game early," Miami head coach Enriso Blasi said. "Give the guys credit, they came out and played hard in the third."
Palmer earned the game winner unassisted and moments after SCSU senior Nate Dey hit the post on a rebound chance. Palmer dug the puck off of the left boards, skated to the slot and sniped the puck under the bar and over the glove of Jase Weslosky.
"As soon as I grabbed it, I was thinking top glove the whole way," said Palmer, a sophomore. "As soon as the lane cleared, I shot it and hoped."
The Huskies scored on the power play 7:36 into the second period. Andreas Nodl moved his point streak to seven games in a row when he sat at the right post and converted Ryan Lasch's centering pass into a goal. Lasch now leads the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in both goals and assists.
The Huskies (8-9-2) and Crimson play in the consolation game Sunday at 5:05 p.m.