The No. 15 Buckeyes had never led before in five games in Miami's 3-year-old Steve Cady Arena, but Ohio State flipped the script and never trailed Friday night, quieting the 3,642 home fans on the No. 7 RedHawks' Senior Night with a 6-2 win.
Needing at least a point to keep alive hopes of receiving a first-round CCHA playoff bye, the Buckeyes converted on their scoring chances and kept Miami's explosive offense at bay.
"We had our backs against the wall playing a very good team in a hostile environment," head coach John Markell said. "I'm really proud of the way the kids played."
With the win, Ohio State (20-11-4, 13-10-4-3) moves to within one point of fourth-place Alaska and needs simply a tie against the RedHawks on Saturday night at 7 p.m. in Value City Arena to assure fourth place and the bye.
The hero was none other than Kyle Reed. A sophomore who scored 10 goals last year but just three this season entering the game, Reed atoned for his struggles this year by netting a hat trick that included the Buckeyes' first two goals, carbon copy snipes over Miami goaltender Connor Knapp's glove.
"The first two goals were big goals," Reed said before turning his attention to his sophomore slump. "It happens to a lot of guys. You just have to stay focused and stay positive."
Reed netted the Buckeyes' first hat trick of the season and now has six goals in his last three games in Oxford. He also had an assist to earn OSU's first four-point game of the year.
Sergio Somma, C.J. Severyn and Zach Pelletier added goals, while John Albert and Hunter Bishop each had two assists.
Brian Kaufman and Jarod Palmer, just as much a Buckeye killer as Reed is for Miami, had goals for the RedHawks, who fell to 18-10-5 (16-7-4-2) and into a tie for second place in the CCHA with Michigan.
Reed's first two goals sent Knapp on the road to a long night. On the first, Reed intercepted a clearing attempt by Justin Mercier at the blue line, skated into the slot and calmly fired over Knapp's glove. Reed made it 2-0 when Miami got caught on another defensive breakdown. The RedHawks overloaded the left side of the ice battling for a puck, so Mike Folkes' cross-ice feed to Reed saw him in on a 2-on-1 that he finished clinically.
But Miami would respond, first when Kaufman converted a 2-on-1 by firing long over Dustin Carlson's blocker to cut OSU's lead in half at 8:39 of the second. The RedHawks equalized four seconds into a power play at 13:09 when Palmer's shot from the top of the zone beat Carlson short side on the right.
Ohio State didn't need much time to get it back when a rush by Reed ended with the puck on Sergio Somma's stick, and the sophomore alternate captain beat Knapp through the legs from a sharp angle on the right just 16 seconds after Palmer's goal.
"It settled us back down," Markell said.
The Buckeyes doubled the lead at 15:58 of the second on another 2-on-1 when Albert fed Severyn alone in front, and Severyn rounded a sliding Knapp before backhanding a goal into the net at the right post.
Miami's expected flurry never came in the third period and both teams were even on shots in the frame at eight. Reed tapped in Bishop's rebound at 13:48 to make it 5-2, and Pelletier scored into an empty net with 2:53 to go.
Despite putting themselves in position to make their postseason road easier, the Buckeyes said they aren't overlooking Saturday night's game in VCA still needing an elusive point.
"I think they did that themselves already in the locker room," Markell said of the team's attempt to stay on an even keel. "They know Miami is going to respond, but we're going home and we should feel good about the way we played."
"We're already looking toward tomorrow," Somma added. "We're not going to soak this one up for very long."
The Saturday game can be heard on WOSU-AM 820 and www.wosu.org.
Notes: Carlson made a few fine saves and finished with 27 overall. Knapp looked like a freshman, allowing five goals on 25 shots. … Ohio State's power play was scoreless for the fifth straight game. … Ohio State forward Mathieu Picard did not play in the final two periods after picking up an injury.