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Ohio State Beats Denver for ECAC Title, Secures NCAA Tournament Berth

The Buckeyes are through the looking glass.

Jamie Sabau

The narrative in the ECAC at the start of the season was fairly straightforward: Denver -- with a trunk full of mayhem -- or Loyola -- in its last season in the league before thumbing it to the Patriot League in the offseason -- would likely earn the conference's automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament while the rest of the league would try to grope its way up the conference's hierarchy. At Hobart today, though, that narrative was incinerated: Ohio State -- a team that hasn't smelled The Big Barbecue since 2008 -- came out of the ECAC as its direct representative to the NCAA Tournament after playing one of the most offensively efficient games (from both teams) that the 2013 season has provided.

Turner Evans' timer-on goal with just 24 seconds remaining in regulation -- a nifty play out of a time out that saw Jesse King feed Evans for an unmolested attempt on the cage that Jamie Faus has not shot of stopping -- is going to dominate the headlines, but the overall quality of the game is what probably deserves the most juice: Ohio State held an early 6-3 lead but Denver quickly erased that over an eight minute span in the second quarter to put the teams square at the intermission; over the final 30 minutes of play, no team lead by more than a goal and the scoreboard blinked a tie on four occasions. The teams were patient offensively, picking their spots to go, and those units drove the volition of the game -- each team crushed their offensive opportunities with the Buckeyes (surprisingly) showing a stronger effort on the offensive end of the field compared to Denver (the nation's most efficient and potent offense in the overall). In the end Ohio State got the stops it needed -- the Pioneers' last possession after Ohio State yielded the faceoff seemed to develop a little more slowly than what Denver may have intended, allowing Greg Dutton to turn away a fairly tame shot from Wes Berg at the buzzer -- despite playing at a possession deficit on the day.

Ohio State asserted itself as a threat in the national tournament, knocking off Loyola and Denver in consecutive games, the crest to a six-game winning streak that started in early April following a five-goal loss to the Greyhounds. Denver will head back to Colorado to reassess its position to try and create some momentum at the most important time of the year.

Here's a truncated tempo-free box score:

Ohio State-Denver: Truncated Tempo-Free Box Score
Metric Ohio State Denver
Offensive Efficiency (per 100 Offensive Opportunities) 45.83 38.46
Offensive Opportunities 24 26
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 1.12 1.38
Offensive Shooting Percentage 40.74% 27.78%
Turnovers (per 100 Offensive Opportunities) 20.83 19.23
Team Save Percentage 47.40% 47.62%
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 34.62 41.67