Beating Michigan is unlike any other win as a Buckeye.
After the No. 6 Ohio State men’s hockey team beat No. 17 Michigan 5-3 Saturday at the Schottenstein Center, the Buckeyes have now defeated their arch-rivals in all four meetings between the two teams this season. Ohio State outscored the Wolverines 17-6 in the season series.
“With the parity in college hockey you know you have to play your best, especially when you play a program like this; their tradition and their history,” head coach Steve Rohlik said. “It just makes a rivalry that much more. It’s certainly nice that we were able to go out and win four hockey games against them.”
Junior forward Freddy Gerard made a major impact, adding two goals to give him 15 points in 16 Big Ten games. He had one point in nine games out of conference.
“I just try to take every game the same way,” Gerard said. “I think it’s just coincidence that I found success playing in the Big Ten, there is no secret here.”
The Wolverines took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period when freshman forward Jack Becker skated into Buckeyes’ zone and fired a shot just inside the blue line that trickled through the pads of Ohio State redshirt junior Sean Romeo.
Ohio State quickly responded when Gerard put what seemed like a harmless shot on net that pinballed around the crease and past sophomore goaltender Hayden Lavigne to tie the game.
“I kind of came over the [blue line] and was like, ‘You know, I’m just gonna try to get this puck on net,’” Gerard said. “I knew [sophomore forward Tanner Laczynski] was going and thinking, ‘Hey, maybe the puck will bounce around.’ Fortunately, it hit off their guy and went in the net, so I’ll take it.”
Just 26 seconds into the second period, Gerard potted his second of the game, with assists coming from Laczynski and senior forward Matthew Weis.
The assists extended Weis’ and Laczynski’s point streaks to 10 games each. That brought their totals to 36 points in 26 games for Laczynski and 28 points in 26 games for Weis.
“Anytime you are on line with two Hobey Baker [Award] candidates, I think it’s going to go pretty well,” Gerard said. “Fortunately for me, I found my ability to fit in with those two. [Weis] can see the ice from anywhere. [Laczynski] is the most dangerous guy on the ice every night, I just try to fill in when I can.”
Michigan tied the game at two on a goal by senior forward Niko Porikos. Ohio State quickly responded with offense of its own.
Ohio State junior forward John Wiitala picked off a Wolverine pass in Michigan’s zone and fed sophomore forward Ronnie Hein to give his team the 3-2 lead.
The Buckeyes continued their dominance in the Wolverines’ zone, outworking Michigan to every puck. Eventually, junior forward Brendon Kearney caught the puck at the top of the right circle and floated it through traffic and into the net, doubling his team’s lead.
Ohio State junior forward Mason Jobst added a shorthanded-goal with a wrister in the slot set up by a nice pass from senior forward Luke Stork to bring the Buckeye lead to 5-2 in the third period.
Jobst did not stop there. On a five-on-three power-play chance for Michigan, he blocked multiple shots to help keep the lead at three.
“Anytime you’re getting called out on a 5-on-3, you know you are going to have to sacrifice your body,” Jobst said. “When you are playing a team like Michigan, you definitely want to get out there and lay the body out. I’m just doing my best to lead by example.”
Michigan added a late tally to bring the score to 5-3, but could not add another in the losing effort.
Next up for the Buckeyes is a weekend series against Michigan State on Friday and Saturday. Both games will be at the Schottenstein Center and start at 7 p.m.