Ohio Hockey Classic
City Arena • Columbus, Ohio
St. Cloud State vs. Miami, 6:05 p.m.
Harvard at Ohio State, 9:05 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 30
St. Cloud State/Miami vs. Harvard, 5:05 p.m.
St. Cloud State/Miami at Ohio State, 8:07 p.m.
In CCHA play, Miami won the regular-season
series against Ohio State with two wins and two ties
against the Buckeyes. In last year's Ohio Hockey Classic
championship game, which counted as a non-conference
affair, OSU prevailed by a 5-3 margin. The RedHawks
advanced to the title game by beating Bowling Green,
3-2, in the first round, while the Bucks handled the
lone non-CCHA team in the tournament field, Minnesota
Duluth, by a 4-1 margin. The Bulldogs topped BGSU,
4-3, for third place.
Ohio State forward Tom Fritsche recorded
an assist in both of his team's wins in last year's
Ohio Hockey Classic. Why is that significant? Because
it marked the first games back in the Buckeye lineup
for Fritsche, the team's leading scorer in both 2004-05
and 2005-06, after missing the first 18 games of the
season with ulcerative colitis.
Senior forwards Fritsche and Tommy Goebel
— the team's leading scorer with 16 points,
11 of them coming in the last 10 games — are
Ohio State's most dynamic players, but the Buckeyes'
goaltending situation is more intriguing. Sophomore
Joseph Palmer, who's started 52 of OSU's 57 games
since the start of the 2006-07 season, is in the Czech
Republic with the U.S. team at the World Junior Championship.
That leaves the starting assignment to a pair of little-used
backups — sophomore Nick Filion (an 0-2-1 mark
in four career starts) or freshman Dustin Carlson,
who allowed five goals in his lone career start at
Nebraska-Omaha Nov. 9. OSU's first-round opponent,
Harvard, has no such issues between the pipes. Sophomore
netminder Kyle Richter ranks ninth nationally in goals-against
average with a 1.85 GAA and his .938 save percentage
is fifth among Division I goalies in that category.
As good as Richter has been in goal
this season, Miami's Jeff Zatkoff has been even better,
as evidenced by his 1.36 GAA and .940 save percentage,
though it wouldn't be a shock to see capable backup
Charlie Effinger get the starting nod in one of the
games. Miami boasts the nation's top offense, averaging
4.5 goals per game. Leading the charge are the country's
second- and third-ranked goal scorers — forwards
Ryan Jones (16 goals) and Justin Mercier (14 goals)
— and freshman Carter Camper, who ranks tied
for second among rookies nationally with 19 points.
The leader in that category is St. Cloud State's Garrett
Roe, who has 11 goals and 14 assists in 17 games.
He joins sophomores Ryan Lasch, who leads the Huskies
with 26 points, and Andreas Nodl to spearhead the
team's potent attack.
HOW WE SEE IT
The Miami-St. Cloud State semifinal
has the ingredients to be one of the most exciting
games of the holiday season — too bad only about
200 people will be at Value City Arena to see it.
The Huskies are halfway through a murderous seven-week
stretch during which they've played series with Clarkson,
Wisconsin, Denver, and Colorado College and have upcoming
dates with North Dakota and Minnesota. St. Cloud State
should be re-energized following the two-week break
and the Huskies play a smart, disciplined style necessary
to neutralize Miami's explosiveness. They haven't
seen a team as deep or as talented as Miami, however.
Barring a sensational performance from SCSU goalie
Jase Weslosky, the RedHawks will prevail.
Ohio State is the anti-Miami —
a young, inexperienced lot with little scoring punch
behind Goebel, Fritsche, and freshman Sergio Somma.
The Buckeyes' goaltending dilemma only highlights
the weaknesses. And while Harvard is no offensive
juggernaut and Richter is coming off a forgettable
start in which he allowed six goals on 22 shots in
a little more than 40 minutes of work against Boston
College two weeks ago, the Crimson should handle Ohio
That leads to a Harvard-Miami final.
Richter has turned in fine performances against quality
opponents this season — 42 saves in a 6-1 win
at St. Lawrence, 39 saves in an overtime win at Boston
University, 28 saves in a shutout of Rensselaer —
but the RedHawks are on a completely different level.
They should encounter little resistance en route to
their second title in the four-year history of this
— Mike Eidelbes