COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State men’s hockey team lost to No. 14 Alaska, 5-2, Saturday night in Nationwide Arena. The Buckeyes led, 1-0 after the first and 2-1 after the second period, but the Nanooks tied the game at 5:36 of the third and then scored twice in a 34 second span to pull away, sealing the win with an empty-net goal.
Ohio State (5-7-1, 2-5-1-1 CCHA) and Alaska (8-5-3, 5-4-3-2 CCHA) will face off in Fairbanks Jan. 28-29 to complete the season series. In the game Saturday, John Albert led the Buckeyes with a goal and an assist in the game. Cody Kunyk had three points, with two assists, for Alaska, with Nik Yaremchuk tallying two helpers.
The Buckeyes held a 1-0 lead after the first period on John Albert’s fourth goal of the season. He skated down the left side and pulled Alaska goalie Scott Greenham out of position. He was able to wrap around behind the net and score before Greenham could get to the other post. Sergio Somma and Curtis Gedig assisted on the goal, as they led the breakout of the Buckeye zone. Shots were 15-11 in favor of the Buckeyes in the stanza.
Each team scored once in the second period, with seven penalties called in the stanza, resulting in six power plays. Freshman Alex Lippincott extended the Buckeye lead to 2-0 at 4:55, jamming home a loose puck, with classmate Chris Crane and Albert picking up the assists. At 6:21 Danny Dries was given a major for hitting from behind, putting Alaska on the power play. The Nanooks scored at 9:54 when Carlo Finucci slipped the puck under Heeter to make the score 2-1. The Buckeyes took a slashing penalty at 10:07, giving the Nanooks a 5-on-3 for 1:14. Ohio State was able to hold Alaska scoreless through the remainder of power play time in the period. Ohio State was 0-for-2 on the power play in the period. The teams combined for 22 shots on net in the stanza, with Ohio State putting 13 on Greenham.
Alaska scored four unanswered in the third period for the road victory. At 5:36 Kunyk scored from just outside the crease, one-timing a pass from behind the net by Nik Yaremchuk, to tie the game at 2-all. At 14:30 Chad Gehon tallied to move the Nanooks ahead for the first time and Ron Meyers lit the lamp just 34 seconds later for a 4-2 Alaska lead. With three minutes remaining the Buckeyes pulled goalie Cal Heeter for an extra attacker, but Alaska added an empty-net goal from Colton Beck with one minute remaining for a 5-2 edge. Ohio State outshot Alaska in the period, 11-9. The Buckeyes were 0-for-2 on the power play in the period, beginning the stanza with an extra man and getting another chance (that was shortened by a Buckeye penalty) at 6:44 of the period.
Ohio State outshot Alaska in the game, 39-24. Heeter had 24 saves for the Buckeyes in 57:22, allowing four goals. Greenham had 37 stops in all 60 minutes for Alaska.
Each team had six power-play chances in the game, with the Nanooks tallying the only extra-man goal.
Ohio State returns to action with two games against Michigan next weekend. The teams will meet at 7:35 p.m. Friday and at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in Value City Arena.
The loss was the first for the Buckeyes in Nationwide Arena, dropping the squad’s record all-time on the Blue Jackets’ home ice to 7-1-3.
Albert and Somma share the scoring lead with 13 points each. Albert now has 103 career points, with 25 goals and 78 assists. Somma has a point in all but three games this season.
Alaska’s five goals were a Buckeye opponent season high.
Ohio State was held to less than three goals for just the second time in the last seven games.
Freshman Brendan Arniel made his Buckeye debut in the game.
Gedig has an assist in five of the last six games and is tied for second on the team with eight helpers this year.
Mark Osiecki, Ohio State head coach
Thoughts on the game
“The difference in the game was the 5-minute major and the 2-minute minor in the first 40 minutes. I thought we did a lot better than last night, but the penalties killed us. We wasted so much energy killing the penalties it wore on us the rest of the game.”
On Alaska’s early bounces
“If anything, we had bounces that went our way. I thought we should have been up 4-1 after the second. But they were coached well and the goaltender did well.”
John Albert, Ohio State senior forward
On the 5-minute major penalty
“It was one of the key points in the game. It killed us in endurance and I felt like we shot ourselves in the foot.”
On playing Michigan next weekend
“We have to play as a team. We can’t play as individuals. If we do that I hope we can get two wins next weekend.”
Dallas Ferguson, Alaska head coach
Thoughts on the game
“We kept chipping away after starting out in the hole by getting one on the power play in the second. We started the third period with a penalty kill. If we could get that killed, I knew we would be going in the right direction.”
How the team responded after the tie and shootout loss Friday
“It was a good team effort tonight. We were missing a couple of guys but we feel like we have good depth at our positions. The guys did what they had to do to be successful.”
Ron Meyers, Alaska junior forward
On the team’s scoring in the third period
“We started the third with killing the penalty. That got us back to working five-on-five. We kept working hard and [Nik] Yaremchuk had a great second effort to get [Cody] Kunyk the goal. “
On responding after the game Friday
“Tonight, Ohio State played well. They pressed really hard all game. We didn’t change a thing we did all game. But we don’t dwell in the past. You can’t do that in hockey.”