Goals within the final minute of periods have the ability to build momentum, and Ohio State took advantage by netting two of them.
On Friday night, the Buckeyes (17-8-6, 8-6-1-1) defeated the Michigan Wolverines (9-17-3, 2-11-2-2) by a score of 4-2. While the Wolverines took the early lead, it was a breakthrough by OSU senior forward David Gust that swung the momentum of the game in favor of the Buckeyes.
An interference penalty late in the first period on Michigan defenseman Joseph Cecconi provided the first of the influential power play goals.
Sophomore forward Dakota Joshua attacked the net with a powerful wrist shot that deflected off of Michigan goalie Jack Lafontaine. Simultaneously, Gust set himself up in front of goal to put in the rebound with a backhand shot with less than a second left in the first period.
In the second period, a late power-play goal by senior forward Nick Schilkey increased the Buckeyes’ lead to two goals. Schilkey set himself up for a rebound similar to Gust and put the puck in net with six seconds left. His 24th goal of the season turned out to be the final tally in the game.
Coaches preach to their players that the final two minutes of every period are the most crucial times in a game, and OSU’s Steve Rohlik reaffirmed that message.
“It was a difference in the game,” he said. “You score with 0.1 and six seconds left, it’s a heartbreaker for the other team.”
The momentum these types of goals create were evident in the flow of the game. Following Gust’s tally, the Buckeyes picked up two quick second-period goals from junior forward Kevin Miller.
“Getting (Gust’s late goal) gets us back in the hockey game and you want to build off of late goals like that one,” Joshua said. “We most certainly did coming out and getting those two goals in the second period.”
Miller did not focus on his two quick goals, but rather the momentum Gust’s goal had heading into the first break.
“You see it all the time in hockey. If there’s a late goal in a period, it really has some momentum heading into the intermission,” said Miller.
For the team, OSU will look to carry the momentum gained from Friday’s game into Saturday’s rematch with Michigan. Puck drop is at 5 p.m. for their final regular season matchup with the Wolverines.