Harvard shows literally no redeeming qualities in decimating 8-1 loss to Ohio State
Gustaf Westlund competed in his first game since Oct. 14 and tallied a goal and two assists in the Bridgeport regional semifinal for the Buckeyes
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — There are no good things you can say about Harvard's performance at the NCAA Bridgeport Regional semifinal in a 8-1 loss Friday to Ohio State at Total Mortgage Arena.
"We just got off on the wrong foot and really couldn't stop the bleeding," said Harvard head coach Ted Donato. "I'm just simply saying congratulations to Ohio State, clearly they were the better team tonight and beat us in all aspects of the game ... we picked a tough game to have a really poor performance, from our coaching on down, so we give them all the credit, but certainly would have liked to play a lot better.”
Besides scoring one lone goal late in the third, it's hard to find any redeeming qualities about the game for the Crimson.
"It’s a tough pill to swallow. Obviously, that kind of score is difficult, I just felt like they beat us to pucks, thought they won more one-on-one battles ... once they scored their first goal, kind of put us on our heels a little bit and then I think we were kind of reeling trying to get to the locker room," added Donato.
The feeling was much different during the Buckeyes post-game presser.
“First off they're an unbelievable team and they got two lines that could play against anyone," said Ohio State's Jake Wise after the game. "I think the biggest thing was we knew that from playing like the Minnesota’s and Michigan's, similar teams, that if we could possess pucks and hold on to the pucks and reload hard, make them chip pucks, that we'd have success and I think we kind of hit our game plan to the 'T' there.”
It seemed on paper like the two teams should have played a fairly even game, with Harvard being ranked No. 7 in the Pairwise and Ohio State standing tied for eighth. The Crimson also boasts a whopping 15 NHL drafted players on their roster, compared to four on the Buckeyes squad, so the loss on Friday afternoon seems even more nonsensical.
“First and foremost, I’m just really proud of my group," said Buckeyes head coach Steve Rohlik. "I mean, we played a really good hockey team there tonight and we were just relentless, and they believed, and when you put that stuff together it's pretty powerful - and you know it's going to be a short lived win tonight because they start worrying about Sunday already - but just really proud of the group.”
One thing that helped make a difference in the matchup was that Ohio State captain Gustaf Westlund made his first appearance since Oct. 14. He tallied a goal and two assists in the game on March 24 to help propel the Buckeyes to the Bridgeport regional final. The squad will play the winner of Quinnipiac and Merrimack at 3 p.m. CT Sunday.
“We talked a lot about it in the locker room after the game," added Rohlik. "I mean there's a lot of tears, four-and-a-half, five months ago, [Westlund] came back for his fifth year and as a captain and obviously a very good player — one it says a lot about our team to continue to move forward - but two he didn't miss meetings, he didn't miss video, he didn't miss practice, he worked really hard to be in this position tonight which we didn't think could be possible, and just really proud of him.”
Ohio State netted eight goals from six different skaters in the game and Montreal Canadiens prospect Jakub Dobes held the fort in goal.
Captain Cam Thiesing put the Buckeyes on the scoreboard early in the first period as he skated down low and shot from a sharp angle to put the puck up and over the shoulder of Harvard goaltender Mitchell Gibson (WSH). The Buckeyes doubled their lead before the end of the first frame as a shot from defender Cole McWard deflected off a Harvard skater and into the back of the net. The play was reviewed for goaltender interference, but the call on the ice stood as a good goal.
“I think we had many more chances than just the two that we scored in that first period," added Wise. "We knew if we just kept playing like that eventually they have to start going in right? So yeah, I think once one went in we felt pretty confident there down the stretch and they just kept going in for us.”
𝐍𝐨. 𝟏𝟒 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐍𝐨. 𝟏𝟓! 🌰— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) March 24, 2023
Cam Thiesing scores his fourteenth of the season to get the Buckeyes on the board.
📺 ESPNU#NCAAHockey x 🎥 @OhioStateMHKY pic.twitter.com/NykmWJG2oA
The Crimson completely fell apart in the second period. First, Westlund forced a turnover and scored on a give-and-go with teammate Jake Wise (CHI). Thiesing then scored his second of the game on the faceoff just six seconds later. Boston Bruins prospect Mason Lohrei made it 5-0 as he deflected a Stephen Halliday (OTT) shot off his skate and past Gibson in goal. Joe Dunlap scored another for Ohio State on a great breakout play alongside Lohrei and Patrick Guzzo. To end the middle frame, McWard tacked on a power play tally for good measure.
Harvard made a goaltending change to start the final 20 minutes as Mitchell Gibson (WSH) swapped out for Derek Mullahy. But the Buckeyes weren't done yet — they added an eighth goal less than two minutes into the third period from Guzzo.
"It's disappointing," said Donato. "But these guys had a great year and certainly I'm proud of not only their performance, but you know how they cared for each other and how they carry themselves, and they were an amazing group to coach.”
Gibson then came back in during the final minutes of the game and Harvard scored their lone goal of the match on the power play with just three minutes remaining. John Farinacci (ARI) received credit for the goal as the puck bounced off his toe and into the back of the net.
"It's really hard to think about right now," said Farinacci after the game. "Obviously it's a career-ending loss, that was probably the worst loss I've had in my hockey career so far ... Not one that I'm necessarily used to, being down that many goals, you know it's a tough one ... can't really put into words right now, I have to kind of digest it and move on."
Final shots on goal were 44-22 in favor of OSU.
Kamil Sadlocha, the Ohio State player who was sent home for part of the season for calling Michigan State's Jagger Joshua a racial slur earlier in 2022-23, was a scratch for the regional semifinal.
OHIO STATE 8, HARVARD 1
Ohio State: 2-5-1—8
First period scoring — 1. OSU, Cam Thiesing (Gustaf Westlund, Jake Wise) 3:22; 2. OSU, Cole McWard (Mason Lohrei, Thiesing) 18:24
Penalties — HAR, Ryan Drkulec (tripping) 9:35
Second period scoring — 3. OSU, Westlund (Wise) 3:44; 4. OSU, Thiesing (Westlund, Wise) 3:50; 5. OSU, Lohrei (Stephen Halliday, Davis Burnside) 8:24; 6. OSU, Joe Dunlap (Patrick Guzzo, Lohrei) 15:08; 7. OSU, McWard (Wise) 16:59 (pp)
Penalties — OSU, Burnside (slashing) 5:27; HAR, Alex Laferriere (hitting from behind) 9:43; HAR, Drkulec (slashing) 16:53; HAR, Alex Gaffney (tripping) 18:00
Third period scoring — 8. OSU, Guzzo (Dunlap, Michael Gildon) 1:10; 1. HAR, John Farinacci (Sean Farrell, Ian Moore) 16:46
Penalties — OSU, Scooter Brickey (cross-checking) 7:22; OSU, Tate Singleton (boarding) 8:18; HAR, Matt Coronato (kneeing) 8:18; OSU, Dunlap (tripping) 16:07; HAR, Ryan Siedem (roughing) 19:33
Penalties-minutes — OSU, 4-8; HAR, 6-12
Power-play goals-opportunities — OSU, 1-5; HAR, 1-3
Shots on goal — OSU 17-17-6—40; HAR 3-5-14—22
Goalie Saves — OSU, Jakub Dobes 3-5-13—21 (1GA); HAR, Mitchell Gibson 15-12-0—27 (7GA); HAR, Derek Mullahy 5—5 (1GA)