Men's hockey | Michigan 5, Ohio State 3: Stumbling out of gate
Wolverines pounce early and hold off Buckeyes’ third-period rally thanks to a tough penalty kill
Michigan forward Derek DeBlois, who had an empty-net goal, tries to check Ohio State’s Sam Jardine off the puck in the third period.
Michigan was in town, the largest home crowd of the season was in attendance, so, of course, last night the Ohio State hockey team came out … flat?
It took two full pit stops for the Buckeyes, facing a two-goal deficit, to pump up the tires, but by the time they got rolling in the third period, Michigan was able to match. Thus, the Wolverines, who had lost seven of their previous 10 games, skated off with a 5-3 victory in front of 6,772 at Value City Arena.
“They were fast, physical, desperate and obviously well-coached,” OSU coach Mark Osiecki said of the Wolverines.
And as much as Osiecki thought the hoopla of prepping for the last two home games of the regular season, and against Ohio State’s archrival, put his team in overamped mode early, “(Michigan) had a lot to do with how we played in the first and second periods,” he said.
The Buckeyes (13-13-7, 12-8-5-1), who were 5-1-2 in their previous eight games going into last night and tied for fourth with Ferris State in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, still can take a big step toward earning a first-round CCHA tournament bye with a victory tonight.
“A huge game,” OSU sophomore forward Tanner Fritz said. “We stress not to lose two in a row. And you know, this is a rival game, and we only play them twice this year, so (tonight) is going to be a huge game.”
With Ohio State’s offense on the fritz early last night, shut out by the Wolverines (11-18-2, 8-15-2-2) on six power-play opportunities, Fritz tried to make up for it. With OSU trailing 2-0 going into the third period, he passed to Max McCormick, who beat Michigan goaltender Steve Racine to make it 2-1.
Then came two Ohio State power-play opportunities, but Michigan, Racine and some stellar defensive play led by freshman Jacob Trouba — the ninth overall pick, by Winnipeg, in the 2012 NHL draft — killed off both. Michigan’s Luke Moffatt followed by going face-to-face with OSU goalie Brady Hjelle on a rebound, the puck bouncing off Moffatt’s skate with 8:12 left to push Michigan’s lead to 3-1.
OSU had given up two power-play goals, to Alex Guptill in the first period and on a 50-foot one-timer by Trouba in the second, so when Michigan had another advantage late in the third, things looked dim for the home team. But Fritz chased down the puck and skated two-thirds the length of the ice to beat Racine through the legs, cutting the deficit to 3-2 with 4:52 left.
What Fritz and the Buckeyes never seized, though, was the momentum. Guptill pushed the lead to 4-2 with 2:33 left, OSU’s Ryan Dzingel cut it to 4-3 while the Buckeyes had an extra skater, then Michigan’s Derek DeBlois iced the victory with an empty-net goal with 50 seconds remaining.
Michigan coach Red Berenson was pleased to see his team leap from its doldrums after almost two weeks off, but said, “You’re not going to get five goals against that team very often.”
Still, it helps when his team can douse the power play.
“I don’t know if there was a secret, but it was definitely a factor in the game,” Berenson said. “I think the numbers might have been 0 for 6, and they’ve got a good power play. So give credit to our defensemen and our forwards for keeping them off the score sheet.”