Youthful Buckeyes Run Into BU Steamroller
by Jake Seiner/CHN Reporter
MANCHESTER, N.H. As Boston University coach Jack Parker reminisced in his post-game press conference, "Henry Ford once said, 'Experience is one of the things of greatest value in life.'"
Parker was talking about avoiding a let-down on BU's hopeful road to the Frozen Four. Ohio State, the young team Parker's Terriers had just defeated, could have used a bit of that wisdom before dropping Saturday’s NCAA Tournament first-round matchup, 8-3.
BU opened a whopping 6-0 lead on the youthful Buckeyes, taking advantage of OSU's struggling transitional game, sloppy defense and inability to convert on the power play.
OSU's troubles began 6:06 into the game. BU senior Brandon Yip's tripping penalty put the Buckeyes on the power play, but OSU spent the majority of the man-advantage battling just to work the puck out of its own zone. The Terriers killed off the penalty with ease, and proceeded to go a man-up themselves on a Nick Biondo two-minute minor for hitting from behind.
It wouldn't take long for BU to capitalize. The Terriers won the opening draw in OSU's zone, and Yip exploited a wide-open passing lane through the slot left by a fallen Buckeye defender to find sophomore Nick Bonino at the right faceoff dot. Bonino took advantage of an uncontested look at the net, beating sophomore goaltender Dustin Carlson with a laser over the netminder's glove-side shoulder.
The Terriers' newly anointed top unit kept the pressure on the Buckeyes, and on the same shift profited from of a sloppy OSU turnover. Buckeye senior Corey Elkins turned the puck over to Bonino in the neutral zone during an OSU change, and the BU sophomore toasted Elkins in a race for the net, leaving BU with a 2-on-1 opportunity. The lone OSU defender sprawled in the slot, but couldn't stop Bonino from sliding a pass to senior Jason Lawrence on the right side of the crease, where the senior slid in his 22nd goal of the year.
BU would add four more goals by the mid-point of the second period, all of which came from right near the OSU doorstep, opening a commanding 6-0 lead and all but putting the game on ice.
"I think [youth] had a lot to do with [the six-goal BU run]," Bishop said. "One of our focuses all year was being consistent and, as you saw tonight, we didn't have the start that we quite wanted to. When you get down [six]-nothing, that's a pretty big hole to dig yourself out of. [Consistency] is something that you hope for and that's just the way it fell tonight."
"We knew [BU] scored in bunches," OSU coach John Markell said when asked how big a role OSU's youth played in the six-goal slide. "I'm looking down the bench and who can I send out? Who's my senior that I can put out to settle us down? My senior line? Those guys that, 'Okay, we know this about them. Let’s take control of this game a little bit.' That's where the youth caught us."
Not surprisingly, special teams may have been the Buckeyes' biggest Achilles' heel, as the squad had converted just 3 of its last 48 power-play chances. OSU failed to convert on six man-up chances through the first two periods, and finished the game just 1-of-8 on the power play.
"This year we've kind of struggled on the power play," Bishop said. "We've been spending a lot of time in practice and we're still working on getting better. The big thing is that we don't give up and keep trying to improve every day.
"When you're down four- or five-nothing, a power-play goal is kind of what you need, so when it's not coming, it's definitely frustrating. It's a focal point for our team right now. We spend a lot of time on special teams and I think you'll see a new power play and penalty kill for us next year."
For the young Buckeye squad, the loss might be a tough pill to swallow short-term. In the future, though, Saturday's game will be a valuable learning experience.
"Well, I only have three guys with tears in their eyes," Markell said. "Those three guys were the seniors, and the rest of the guys know they're coming back. It's a pretty young team that now has a chance to go back and build the foundation knowing what it takes it get in, how important non-conference games are, how important your league games are."
"It's definitely a learning experience," Bishop said. "For the guys who are returning next year, that'll be a big edge."