The boisterous Miami student section sang and danced, and the same old story for Ohio State was that the Buckeyes couldn't get out of their own way.
The No. 1 RedHawks scored four unanswered goals – thanks mostly to Buckeye mistakes – to take a 4-2 win in front of 3,276 in Steve Cady Arena in Oxford, Ohio, sending disappointing Ohio State into the holiday break on a three-game losing streak.
"It's a tough one to swallow," OSU captain Peter Boyd said. "That was our game tonight. I think we just took the last probably 15 minutes off. They have a deep team and they're going to score and they're going to score often if you don't play a 60-minute game."
Ohio State (7-12-1, 5-8-1-1 CCHA) took a 2-0 lead into the second intermission thanks to second-period goals by Hunter Bishop and Zac Dalpe, but Steven Spinell got Miami on the board and Andy Miele scored twice in the last 10 minutes with the game winner coming with 2:19 to play.
"Three mistakes, three goals," OSU head coach John Markell said. "That's the way it is right now. I thought we played well … but we can't make a mistake. It's in our net. It's discouraging."
Spinell, a freshman, intercepted a pass as the Buckeyes tried to clear the puck, taking it from left to right through the OSU defense before tucking his own rebound underneath goaltender Dustin Carlson for his first career goal at 7:07 of the third.
The next mistake was a holding penalty on little-used sophomore Mike Folkes at 11:10. Only 33 seconds later, good puck movement put the biscuit on the stick of Miele at the top of the right circle, and his slap shot cleanly went over the blocker of Carlson.
Finally, a neutral-zone turnover led to a Miami rush in the late going, and Alden Hirschfeld centered left to right to Miele. The junior went left around the sliding Carlson before finishing into the yawning net for his seventh goal of the year, completing the RedHawks' first win after trailing by two goals all season. Jarod Palmer added an empty-net goal with 27.9 to play.
"We knew we could come back, we just needed to be a little bit more aggressive and start taking the game to them a little bit, which we did," Miami head coach Enrico Blasi said. "We changed some things up on our forecheck and Spinell did a great job of listening and executing on that. We were able to score that first one and once we got that we got a timely power-play goal and the fans got into it. It was a pretty fun environment."
Carlson was hard-done having made 33 saves after ceding his starting job to sophomore Cal Heeter for the last four games, including Miami's 6-0 shellacking on Friday night in Value City Arena.
"He's a competitive kid," Markell said of Carlson. "He wants to play and he was the recipient of the better game tonight. We just couldn't score the goals. But we took a very good hockey team down to the wire in their own building."
The first period was largely uneventful before the second was full of drama. Carlson poke-checked one opportunity away from Carter Camper before the Buckeyes got on the board with John Albert firing a cross-crease feed to Bishop from the right wall for the junior to tap in past Miami's Connor Knapp. The tally snapped Miami's scoreless streak of 239:12, the fourth longest in NCAA history.
The Buckeyes nearly scored on a similar play moments later when Bishop centered one to C.J. Severyn, but Knapp slid to make a fantastic save. Bishop hit the post later on the power play, but the Buckeyes converted the man-up chance when Dalpe was sprung on a breakaway by Matt Bartkowski, drawing Knapp down by cutting from left to right before a simple finish into the roof of the cage.
The period ended with drama too. A Miami player tried to send a slap shot the length of the ice as the buzzer sounded but drilled it into the leg of Dalpe. The OSU sophomore complained vociferously to the refs after the horn, and pushing and shoving ensued as the teams started to go to their respective locker rooms, the result of which were three roughing after the whistle penalties on each team.
That was perhaps the most obvious example of the Buckeyes showing the fight that was lacking a night before.
"It shouldn't take an embarrassing loss or a beating, a disappointment to get yourself to the competitive level that it takes to challenge at Division I college hockey," Markell said. "Let's hope it's there in the second half."
The Buckeyes are back in action when they host Bowling Green on Jan. 8-9.
Notes: Miami outshot OSU 40-27, with Knapp making 25 saves to improve to 3-1-3. … Miami had killed 24 straight penalties before Dalpe's goal. … The RedHawks have 11 third-period goals in the last three games. … Ohio State scratched junior forward Kyle Reed, who had a hat trick in the Buckeyes' last game in Oxford. … Ian Boots and Paul Kirtland also were removed from the lineup in favor of Folkes – a defenseman by trade playing forward on the fourth line – and Cory Schneider. … Both teams were 1 for 3 on the power play, and Ohio State's woeful PK allowed five power-play goals in the series.