One game stands between each team and their near equal desire to reach the CCHA’s semifinal playoff round at Joe Louis Arena in the league’s final season.
“Nobody wants this to end (on our team). Our play will reflect that,” senior captain Kyle Bonis said. “It will be a battle from start to finish.”
Ohio State sent the best-of-three series to the necessary third game of the series after defeating Ferris State 3-1 on March 16 in OSU Ice Rink at Columbus, Ohio.
Ferris’ sophomore wing Justin Buzzeo (8A, 13P) set up senior center Travis Ouellette (11G, 26P) for his fifth power play goal this season and a one goal lead in the first period.
Sophomore defenseman Jason Binkley (18A, 20P) sent the puck to Buzzeo to begin the play. Ouellette (1G, 1A) and Buzzeo (2A) each have two points in the post-season.
Ohio State tied the score with a power play goal of its own, 10 minutes later, in the first.
Each team duked it out in the second, with near equal opportunities, before Ohio State squeaked one past Bulldog sophomore goaltender CJ Motte for a 2-1 lead.
“(Cory) Kane’s line did a good job mostly all night generating offense and working the puck in the OSU zone,” senior wing Eric Alexander said. “The other lines had good shifts as well, but you could tell Ohio State was more on top of their game in the defensive zone and had more consistent play.”
The Buckeyes held onto the lead through the third, despite the Bulldogs’ 10 attempts to score an equalizer, and capped the night with an empty net goal in the final minute to win 3-1.
“We did have a lot of opportunities to score,” Alexander said. “We really need to figure out a way to bear down on our chances tomorrow, because all it takes is one shot or bounce to change the game.”
Motte made 35 saves in the outing. In his last three, Motte has averaged a .950 save-percentage.
Ferris is 16-15-5 overall this year. Ohio State improved to 15-16-7.
“We’re going to need another solid performance out of (Motte) tomorrow because OSU has some good offensive talent and CJ will need to help us shut the door on them.”
Through two, the Bulldogs are two-for-eight on the power play. Ferris has allowed two power play goals in seven penalties this series.
Alexander would like to see effective puck movement, especially by the young defensemen on the Bulldogs’ line-up.
“The smaller rink definitely benefits our team if we play our game. I would like to see our younger defensemen step up, show consistency and make good plays,” Alexander said. “They’ve improved a lot over the season. If they play well along with our top defensemen, then our defense will be hard to beat.”
Each team will meet at center ice at 7 p.m., with puck drop scheduled five minutes later at OSU Ice Rink.
“Everyone on the team is aware of the situation and will be well prepared for tomorrow’s game,” Alexander said. “It’s pretty clear that it’s a must win game.”