The Ohio State men’s hockey team continued its recent high-flying offensive performances and collected maximum points against a team equally as potent on offense, No. 6 Michigan.
The Buckeyes won 7-4 on Friday at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and followed that up with a 6-5 overtime victory at Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus on Sunday afternoon.
The first period of Friday’s match was a wild one, with five goals scored in total over the opening 20 minutes. The Wolverines got on the board first, courtesy of a power-play goal from junior forward J.T. Compher. Less than five minutes later, Michigan (20-6-5, 10-4-3) doubled its lead from a shot by junior forward Alex Kile off a counter attack.
However, the Buckeyes (11-17-3, 6-8-3) were not fazed by the early two-goal deficit. In a span of 10 minutes, the Scarlet and Gray notched three goals to grab the lead.
Freshman forward Dakota Joshua would strike first just after the halfway point of the opening period. Junior defenseman Josh Healey’s shot from beyond the blue line then found its way past senior goaltender Steve Racine to bring the score to even. Then with less than a minute remaining in the period, a shot from freshman forward Mason Jobst took a rebound and fell to the feet of freshman forward John Wiitala, who promptly slotted the puck behind Racine.
The momentum was clearly on the Buckeyes’ side, and it became just as apparent that they took full advantage of it.
Sophomore forward Kevin Miller collected a pass from freshman defenseman Sasha Larocque and fired past Racine to double the Buckeyes’ lead. Just 22 seconds later, freshman forward Brendon Kearney converted to put OSU up 5-2. This prompted Michigan coach Red Berenson to make a change between the pipes, sending junior netminder Zach Nagelvoort into the fray for the Wolverines.
Yet it didn’t make much of a difference, as junior defenseman Drew Brevig took advantage of a shorthanded Michigan side and fired from long range past Nagelvoort for the Buckeyes’ sixth unanswered goal.
The Wolverines showed some fight in the third period with the hefty deficit. Sophomore forward Tony Calderone scored twice, giving a glimmer of hope for a potential comeback. However, freshman forward Freddy Gerard would put the final nail in the coffin with an empty-net goal with less than two minutes remaining in the contest.
Despite having Saturday off, the Buckeyes appeared to pick up right where they left off when they entered Nationwide Arena on Sunday. OSU coach Steve Rohlik said it didn’t surprise him that both of the contests were high scoring.
“It’s almost the way our two teams match up against one another, to be honest with you,” Rohlik said. “I don’t even know what the total goals are, but it’s off the charts in the four games, that’s for sure.
“Every time you play (Michigan), at the end of the day you’ve probably got to score five goals to win.”
Joshua would put one past Racine to kick off the Buckeyes’ scoring once again. Kearney then doubled the Scarlet and Gray’s lead with a little over three minutes remaining in the period. Just 25 seconds later, junior forward and co-captain Nick Schilkey would grab his 18th goal of the season and put OSU up 3-0.
“It’s nice to know that the bounces are coming my way and coming the way of my line. We’ve been playing well,” Schilkey said. “There’s a few lines that have been putting the puck in the net. It’s kind of nice to get those bounces at this time and we just got to keep that going for sure.”
Sophomore defenseman and Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick Zach Werenski’s power-play goal put the Wolverines on the board in the second period. Jobst would then restore the Buckeyes three-goal advantage after his shot managed to trickle underneath both a Michigan defenseman and the goaltender Racine. Senior defenseman and co-captain Craig Dalrymple went on to make it 5-1 with a long-range shot that went over Racine’s glove.
Michigan would get back into the contest with two goals in the final minute of the second period. In just 24 seconds, sophomore forwards Cutler Martin and Calderone found the net for the Wolverines, setting up a competitive final period.
“Stuff happens. Next thing you know, we give up the goal, didn’t get a penalty, they score on a power play, its 5-3. This team could score just like that,” Rohlik said. “They made it 5-3, and that two-goal lead going into the third, it’s never comfortable.”
Werenski’s second goal of the day cut the Buckeyes’ lead to just one with over nine minutes left in the game. Michigan then tied it up with less than five minutes remaining, courtesy of freshman forward Cooper Marody.
After three minutes of four-on-four overtime hockey, Schilkey collected a loose puck off a shot from Brevig on the rush and slotted it home, ending the contest 6-5.
“Puck just got thrown out of our end. It kind of bounced off their stick weird. I was going the other way and couldn’t really get it to settle down. There I knew they were coming back on me. First chance I could I just ripped it,” Schilkey said on his winning goal. “Next thing I know I’m coming around the net and I see the goalie coming out after (the puck). It was a foot race, and I think I got him.”
The Buckeyes’ regular season is set to finish next weekend at Michigan State. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:05 p.m. on Friday and Saturday in East Lansing, Michigan.