Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Buckeyes Stun Eagles

Sometimes I sit down to write these posts and I honestly have no idea what to say- tonight is one of those instances. The Ohio State Buckeyes rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Eagles and advance to the finals of the Florida College Hockey Classic vs Cornell, who beat Providence earlier in the day.

First thing first, give OSU credit. Unlike other bad losses in recent memory, where BC would just dominate the game only to run into a red hot goalie, the Buckeyes controlled a large chunk of the contest and certainly deserved the victory. I thought they moved the puck around well in the offensive zone, they silenced BC's power play, and got timely saves when needed. Congrats to them on what is sure to be a huge boost for their program. 

There are no ways to sugarcoat what happened out there tonight, it was an unmitigated disaster on a lot of levels. There were a handful of guys that looked ready to play- I thought Sanford, Gilmour, and Tuch were fine but other than those three, it was not pretty. The defense turned the puck over way too many times, certain players continue to take dumb penalties, and to be honest, nobody generated a ton of offense. According to the stat sheet, BC recorded 32 shots but I'm not sure they had more than 5 or 6 "grade A" opportunities. They were rewarded with a five minute power play while leading 2-0 near the end of the first period, but, as has been the case far too often with the power play this season, no goals were put on the board. They had sustained zone time for almost the entire major but were unable to capitalize. 

Ohio State's first goal was a lucky play as the puck redirected off of Casey Fitzgerald's stick and into BC's net to make it a one goal game. A few minutes later, BC's defense gift-wrapped a turnover right in front of their own net which led to a tap in goal for OSU's Tyler Lundey. The Buckeyes closed the scoring about ten minutes into the third period with three seconds left on a Chris Calnan tripping penalty. 

After reading some of the message boards and Twitter waves, you would have thought the world was coming to an end. Was it a bad loss? Heck, it's probably one of the worst in the past ten years, but, let's not act like the season is over. BC is not a bad hockey team, they're just playing horribly at the moment. The defensive question marks posed at the beginning of the season are beginning to come back, the only line that is producing any offense is the Sanford group, as a team they're taking far too many penalties, and one player in particular is building up a negative reputation. Look, I think Miles Wood is a terrific player, but, he keeps killing this team by sitting in the box every game. Wood leads the league with 60 penalty minutes, highlighted by a pair of game misconducts and a disqualification at the end of last night's tilt. He plays a hard-noosed game that involves a lot of contact but there is no need to keep hammering players from behind, particularly when there are only five seconds left and the puck is all the way across the ice. Because of his poor decision making, BC will have to try and find a way to beat one of the top teams in the country without his services. 

For those who were texting, emailing, and tweeting about how much this team "stinks", I wouldn't give up on them just yet. It's an embarrassing loss, sure, but they still have an ocean of talent and if they can find a way to shore up the penalties, they could do some real damage in the coming months. I think one of the biggest problems is their inability to protect a lead as they've blown a two goal advantage in three of the past four games, but with so many young guys, that is not necessarily unexpected. Without White and Wood, I don't have very high expectations for today's game but if they could ever find a way to grind out a point or two vs a fantastic Providence team (pairwise points), then it would be a big momentum swinger for these guys. 

Lot of hockey left to be played, they're down but they are not out.

I won't have a Providence preview but I'll have a recap. Game is at 4. 

Go Eagles

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