Photo: Courtesy The Denver Post
The Ohio State Buckeyes (26-9-5) played stifling defense and scored opportunistic goals to rout the University of Denver (23-10-8) in the NCAA playoffs 5-1 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In an ironic twist, it was the Pioneers high flying offense that could never get off the ground and it was the Ohio State Buckeyes finding the back of the net. The game had all the feel of a masterpiece crafted by former DU assistant coach, now turned Buckeyes assistant, Steve Miller who employed a central defense which pushed the Denver forwards to the wings and mopped up in front of the goal so freshman goaltender Sean Romeo could keep DU’s future NHL stars at bay.
The first period lacked the energy seen in the Penn State-Denver contest on Saturday. A cautious first period, played at a deliberate Ohio State pace, played into the Buckeyes game plan and ended deadlocked 0-0.
In the second period, Ohio State found daylight at the hands of junior forward Dakota Joshua, who backhanded a shot past senior goalie Tanner Jaillet to give the Buckeyes a 1-0 lead at 3:47 of the second period.
The Buckeyes doubled their lead later in the second period. OU Senior forward Christian Lampasso got the puck to the middle and fed Kevin Miller, who found space to get off a backhand shot which beat Jaillet high to put Ohio State up 2-0 with a little more than four minutes to go in the period. Again, Denver’s offensive opportunities were limited, just like the first period, so the 2-0 advantage felt like a significant hurdle against an OSU team that had sustained leads all season.
Opening the third period, senior defenseman Matt Joyaux, netted his second goal with the help of senior forward Christian Lampasso, who assisted on both of Miller’s goals. The advantage ballooned to 3-0 at 9:27 of the third period.
The Pioneers finally answered back with a goal from sophomore forward Tyson McLellan at 11:21 of the third to cut the lead to back to two goals. But it took only 30 seconds for Ohio State to answer with another goal by Miller to make the score 3-1.
Denver controlled much of the possession in the third period, but the Buckeyes’ Laczynski added to the lead anyway after stealing the puck and making a pass to a wide-open Matt Joyaux, and the senior defenseman buried his second goal of the season to 4-1.
Mason Jobst scored an empty-net goal when Denver decided to pull Jaillet with more than six minutes remaining, all but sealing the defeat of the Pioneers, and ending the Pioneers pursuit of a second NCAA title in a row.
Jim Montgomery complimented Ohio State on their execution against the Pioneers who seemed to be on a roll heading into the game.
While many fans will see this season as one that fell short of high expectations, many in PioNation shared their thanks for the hard work put in by this season’s Pioneers.
DU will most certainly miss their departing seniors as well as early departures.
Ohio State advances to the Frozen Four and will play No. 2 Minnesota Duluth, the team that defeated the Buckeyes in the opening round last season.