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Miami hockey ties No. 15 Ohio State 1-1 in home opener

By Ben Blanchard, Sports Editor

In its first home action of 2016, the Miami University ice hockey team tied the No. 15 Ohio State University Buckeyes 1-1 through regulation and two five-minute overtime periods. In an essentially exhibition shootout, OSU defeated Miami 1-0.

Freshman goaltender Ryan Larkin continued to show great promise for the RedHawks (1-1-1), as he made 23 saves to earn his second straight one-goal performance.

"I felt good, I knew our guys were always there to back me up," Larkin said. "I know I just have to make the first save, and our defensemen did a great job of clearing rebounds and helping me out."

Following scoring opportunities for both teams to start the tilt, Ohio State capitalized on a poorly timed Miami line change to strike first. The goal, courtesy of a David Gust finish from a Dakota Joshua rebound, put the Buckeyes (1-0-2) up 1-0 less than five minutes into the game.

MU reacted well to the deficit, as a flurry of offensive chances forced an OSU penalty roughly a minute after the goal.

With the man advantage, sophomore forwards Josh Melnick and Kiefer Sherwood charged the Buckeyes' zone. Melnick fired a shot that rebounded to Sherwood, only for Sherwood's backdoor effort to be stonewalled as well.

After several more scoring opportunities, the penalty expired. Miami and Ohio State traded penalties for the remainder of the first period, but neither side was able to capitalize. At the end of the first, OSU led 1-0 while MU led in shots, 10-6.

The first intermission gave this young Miami team, one which started three freshmen and has 14 first-years on its roster, a chance to regroup.

"I thought we settled down after the first period and played our game," head coach Enrico Blasi said. "The power play goal was huge. I thought both goaltenders played great tonight."

Consistent Miami pressure led to more Ohio State penalties to begin the second, as a penalty at the 2:29 mark gave MU its fourth power play of the evening. Just over a minute later, a clever centering feed by senior forward Anthony Louis to freshman Carson Meyer drew yet another Buckeye penalty, giving the Red and White a 5-on-3 edge for 50 seconds.

Early in the power-play, Sherwood dug the puck out from the half wall, then fed junior defenseman and captain Louie Belpedio at the point. Belpedio swung the puck to Louis at the right circle and then got a return pass that he one-timed past OSU to tie the score at one 4:11 into the second period.

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This goal continued MU's offensive dependence on special teams, as the RedHawks have to yet to score an even-strength goal through three games this season.

Miami continued its offensive attack throughout the middle stanza, as Meyer showcased his raw talent and speed, flying past the OSU defense and ringing a shot off the crossbar about six and a half minutes in.

Despite a barrage of quality scoring chances for both teams, the second and third periods passed without a tie breaker.

After regulation expired, the teams battled through a five-minute five-on-five overtime session. With no goals scored in the first extra session, the teams played a five-minute three-on-three period in accordance with the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference overtime rules.

Despite the open ice, neither side was able to score to end the game.

In the golden goal shootout, Louis went first for Miami, but his juke to the left was saved by OSU senior goaltender Matt Tomkins. Freshman forward and Philadelphia Flyers prospect Tanner Laczynski went next for Ohio State, craftily beating Larkin to end the game.

"Both teams had their chances in overtime, and in the end this goes down as a tie for NCAA purposes," Blasi said. "I'm happy with our team and the experience it's gaining in these situations that just can't be replicated in practice."

The tightly contested match-up concluded with Ohio State tallying a shot more than Miami, 24-23. On the power-play, the RedHawks went one-for-six while killing off all four of the Buckeyes' advantages.

The Red and White continues its home stand Friday and Saturday in a weekend series against Maine. Puck drops in Steve Cady Arena 7:35 p.m. Friday and 7:05 p.m. Saturday.