The Ohio State men’s hockey team has been playing so well lately, even head coach Mark Osiecki is a little surprised.
The No. 14 Buckeyes swept No. 7 Michigan in a two-game series this weekend in Ann Arbor, Mich., and are currently riding a seven-game winning streak and a nine-game unbeaten streak.
“I think it’s amazing. When you combine the work ethic that they have with the determination to compete that they have, I think anything can happen,” Osiecki said. “Yeah, sure, we’re probably a bit further ahead, if we were betting, where we thought we would be.”
The sweep of the Wolverines was the first for OSU in Ann Arbor since 1986, and the first against Michigan in any arena since 1989 in a home-and-home series.
Michigan struck first in Saturday’s game, but OSU scored twice in a three-minute span for a 2-1 lead after the first period. Sophomore forwards Alex Lippincott and Chris Crane scored for the Buckeyes in the opening stanza.
The Wolverines tied the game early in the second period. OSU freshman forward Ryan Dzingel answered Michigan’s score with two goals in a 16-second span on an OSU major power play for a 4-2 lead. Michigan added a power-play goal at 12:03 to cut the Buckeye’s lead to one, but freshman forward Max McCormick scored at 15:58 and OSU lead, 5-3, after 40 minutes.
Lippincott scored early in the third period after Michigan tied the game at five , to preserve the win and series sweep, as OSU won the second game of the series, 6-5.
OSU senior goalie Cal Heeter had 26 saves in the win, though the Buckeyes allowed more than two goals in a game for the first time since their 3-0 loss at Michigan State on Oct. 20.
The Buckeyes won the first game of the series Friday night, 2-1.
Michigan scored first at 15:26 in the first period, but the Buckeyes were quick to respond with a goal of their own. OSU freshman forward Darik Angeli tied the game at 1-1, 2:16 after the Wolverines’ goal.
Following a scoreless second period, OSU took the lead for good with a goal from Angeli 7:53 into the final period. Angeli took a pass from freshman defenseman Al McLean and fired the puck off Michigan goalie Shawn Hunwick, which bounced into the net.
Heeter had 29 saves in the win, and the Buckeyes killed all four of Michigan’s power plays.
The Buckeyes’ freshmen accounted for five of OSU’s eight goals in the two-game series.
Osiecki praised the performances of his freshmen following the weekend series.
“I thought our freshmen played outstanding,” he said. “Our young guys did very well. I think if you look at stat sheet for (Saturday), our freshmen did a lot of the work. I think that speaks volumes.”
“This was excellent for our team. We’re taking another step to continue to get better,” Osiecki said. “It’s fun to see our guys playing hard for each other.”
OSU is now 10-3-1 on the year and moved into sole possession of first place in the CCHA with a 7-2-1-1 conference record. Michigan dropped to 7-5-2, 3-5-2-1 in the CCHA.
After a week off, the Buckeyes will play No. 12 Lake Superior in a two-game series in Columbus starting Dec. 2 at 7:05.