Eric Beiersdorfer / Lantern photographer
The Ohio State men’s hockey team just keeps on rolling.
OSU came into a Friday afternoon contest against No. 14-ranked Northern Michigan unbeaten in its last five games, but fell behind Wildcats, 1-0, in the first period. The Buckeyes responded with four unanswered goals over the final two periods, however, and upset Northern Michigan, 4-1.
OSU Sophomore forward Alex Szczechura tied the game in the second period and a third-period tally by sophomore forward Chris Crane put OSU in front for good. Senior captain Cory Schneider scored two goals late in regulation to clinch the upset.
“I thought we got better as the game went on,” OSU coach Mark Osiecki said after the game. “We’re all about competing and work and goals by committee… It’s fun to coach these kids.”
The Wildcats struck first, scoring on a shot from sophomore center Stephan Vigier shot at 16:07 in the first period to take a 1-0 lead. Junior left winger Kory Kaunisto assisted on the tally, the only for either team in the first period.
The Buckeyes came out firing in the second period.
OSU took 12 second-period shots, and one found the back of the net early. Szczechura out-muscled a defender behind Northern Michigan senior goalie Reid Ellingson’s net. Szczechura then wrapped around the goal before firing a shot home from close range to tie the score at 1-1.
“(We were) working hard down low and I just kind of got (the puck) and took it to the net,” Szczechura said of his goal. “Luckily for me, it just went in. Nothing special about it.”
Two Wildcats penalties gave OSU a 5-on-3 advantage just minutes later, but Ellingson denied four Buckeyes’ shots and Northern Michigan held OSU off.
OSU outshot Northern Michigan, 17-8, through two periods, but the 1-1 score held as the third period began.
At 10:38 of the final period, Northern Michigan freshman defenseman Jake Baker received a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for an open-ice hit on OSU senior Danny Dries. After having his head illegally contacted by Baker, Dries eventually returned to his feet.
Moments later, the Buckeyes made the Wildcats pay on the resulting power play when Crane poked a goal passed Ellingson to put OSU up.
“They took a five-minute major and we capitalized,” Crane said. “Going hard to the net — that’s our mentality as Ohio State and it worked out for us.”
With just more than two minutes to play Schneider, a forward, jammed a goal passed Ellingson to clinch the upset. Schneider also added an empty-net goal in the final minute of play.
Senior goalie Cal Heeter stopped 13-of-14 shots in the game to preserve the win, which improved OSU’s record to 7-3-1 overall and 4-2-1-1 in the CCHA.
The Wildcats fall to 4-3-3 overall and 1-2-3-2 in the CCHA.
The two teams will meet again at the Schottenstein Center Saturday with the opening face-off set for 7:05 p.m.