Three second-period goals, three Big Ten points.
In a game full of physicality, three assists from sophomore forward Dakota Joshua and two goals from junior forward Kevin Miller powered the No. 12 Ohio State men’s hockey team (17-8-6, 8-6-1-1) over the visiting Michigan Wolverines (9-17-3, 2-11-2-2) in Game One of a weekend series, 4-2.
Senior forwards Nick Schilkey and David Gust netted a goal each in the victory, as well as assists from Gust, freshman defender Kevin Miller and sophomore forward Mason Jobst. Senior goalie Christian Frey played well in net for the Buckeyes, racking up 32 saves on 34 Wolverine shots.
“At times, we can be a very good hockey team, and then at times, you can see the inconsistency,” OSU coach Steve Rohlik said. “We gave up way too many good opportunities later in the game, and (Frey) made some ridiculous saves. You talk about the difference, he was the difference there towards the end.”
Despite heavy pressure in the Michigan zone and puck possession from the Scarlet and Gray in the opening 10 minutes, the visitors drew first blood.
Off an OSU turnover, Wolverines’ senior defender Nolan De Jong carried the puck on a three-on-two and centered a pass to senior forward Evan Allen, who wristed a shot into the top corner for his fourth goal of the season. Michigan led 1-0 with less than eight minutes left in the period.
The Buckeyes earned their second power play of the game as time ran down in the first stanza, and with less than a second remaining, the Scarlet and Gray equalized.
Jobst fired a pass near the crease to Joshua, whose shot deflected to a waiting Gust, and the assistant captain netted his 13th goal of the year with one-tenth of a second left on the clock to enter the first intermission tied at 1-1.
“Personally, it was good to see everyone going hard in the first period,” Joshua said. “We’ve struggled with that lately, so I think that really boosted the team morale.”
Under three minutes into the second, OSU took the lead.
Freshman forward Matt Miller found junior forward Kevin Miller, who buried his seventh goal of the season to give OSU a 2-1 lead. A little over seven minutes later, it was Miller again.
Kevin Miller bagged his second goal of the night, and third point in his last two games to add to the Buckeye lead. Joshua and Gust each notched a helper and their second point of the night on the goal.
The Wolverines cut the lead to one with under four minutes remaining as Allen added his second of the night, but after earning their third power play of the night, OSU took advantage and a two-goal lead again as Schilkey tapped in his conference-leading 24th goal of the season with seven seconds left in the second.
Both the Buckeyes and Michigan each possessed opportunities to cut or add to the lead, including some stellar saves from Frey to keep the lead intact. However, neither team found the back of the net in the final frame, as OSU took Game One.
With puck drop for Game Two of this rivaled series slated for 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon, Rohlik said that the earlier start doesn’t affect his team’s preparation.
“It helps us get on the ice quicker,” Rohlik said. “We’re just excited to get back at it, and nothing really changes for these guys. Just get here in the morning, get prepared and get ready to go; we’re just excited we get to start earlier.”