Hockey Heartbreak: Buckeyes Lose Late

A roller-coaster season of redemption for the No. 14 Ohio State hockey team likely ended in crushing fashion Sunday night. Despite OSU dominance, Alaska scored with 50.7 seconds to play to earn a 1-0 win that gave the Nanooks a 2-1 series victory during the quarterfinals of the CCHA tournament. Ohio State had 43 shots on goal but could not solve goaltender Chad Johnson.

In the first four games of the season series, including the first two games of a best-of-three CCHA quarterfinal playoff set, between the No. 14 Ohio State men's hockey team and Alaska, the team that would be dominating the game was clear both on the ice and the scoreboard within the opening minutes.

The teams split those four games with the eventual winner leaving the first period ahead by multiple goals in each contest. When Ohio State outshot Alaska 17-7 after one frame Sunday night in the deciding game of the playoff set but left the period in a scoreless tie, the writing was on the wall.

The Buckeyes couldn't take advantage of their dominance thanks to 43 saves by Nanooks goaltender Chad Johnson, and Ron Meyers scored the game-winning goal with 50.7 seconds left to give UA a 1-0 win Sunday night in the Carlson Center in Fairbanks.

Ohio State falls to 23-14-4 and drops to 16th in the PairWise rankings that determine NCAA postseason eligibility. That mark is at least two spots on the wrong side of the NCAA bubble, meaning the Buckeyes' season likely came to an end thanks to Meyers' fourth goal of the season.

Alaska, meanwhile, advances to the CCHA championship semifinals in Joe Louis Arena on March 20.

The Nanooks made it on the strength of Meyers' tally. The freshman had the puck in the corner as time wound down and sent a centering pass toward the front of the net that deflected past OSU goaltender Dustin Carlson.

The sophomore, whose emergence in November turned the Buckeyes into a nationally ranked team, made 25 of 26 saves but the last one he couldn't get likely will haunt him for an entire offseason.

On the other end of the ice, Johnson was unbeatable. The CCHA's best netminder statistically all season, the senior blocked all 43 shots while earning his sixth shutout of the year and second of the series.

Going with the same lineup that earned them a 4-2, series-extending win the night before, the Buckeyes were dominant for at least 40 minutes of the game. OSU could have left the first period up at least 1-0, but Johnson made a sterling save on Fairbanks native Hunter Bishop with 7:27 left in the period to keep the game scoreless.

He also earned some help from his post, which rejected a second-period wrist shot from Erick Belanger that had got past him.

Peter Boyd was denied from the slot early in the third by Johnson, and Alaska started to carry play as the frame went on. The Nanooks won the shot count 11-10 in the third.

Alaska joins regular-season champion Notre Dame, national No. 3 Michigan and Northern Michigan in Detroit. The Wildcats upset third-seeded Miami earlier in the day to put the RedHawks on the tournament bubble.

Despite being just one of seven teams in the nation with 23 wins at this point, Ohio State appears to be done for the year after earning the fifth-place spot in the league during the regular season.

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