The Buckeyes somehow did it again. The Ohio State men's hockey team scored their third win over a top ten team in the last 20 days with a 3-2 shootout victory over No. 6 Michigan after ending overtime tied at five. Ohio State blew a 3-0 lead in the second period and needed a miracle at the end to even get to overtime and tie the game at five, but they did and somehow snuck out a victory from the jaws of defeat that they themselves constructed.
It was a bizarre game that never should've been this close. If Ohio State had better puck luck, this one could've been over after the first period. But if Ohio State didn't get a miracle with under ten seconds left, Michigan would've taken this one in regulation. Bizarre probably doesn't do this game justice.
The Buckeyes wouldn't trail in this one until there was 1:34 in the third period, but this was a back and forth affair almost from the beginning. Ohio State took a 1-0 lead in the first on a goal from a Mason Jobst deflection off a Sasha Larocque shot at 9:47. That score would hold into the intermission, despite Ohio State peppering the No. 6 Wolverines with 18 shots in the first period.
In the second, it looked like things were still all Buckeyes when Anthony Greco scored his third shorthanded and ninth overall of the year at 1:45 of the second to make it 2-0. And then, at 13:07 of the second, John Wiitala scored his fifth of the year to make it 3-0. It looked like the Buckeyes were cruising to yet another victory over a top 10 opponent after dispatching Boston College and Cornell in Florida during the holidays. But it was not to be.
At 15:30, Michigan finally put home their first goal past starting-for-some-reason Matt Tomkins. Tyler Motte put it in for Michigan, going coast to coast down the ice. And then just 55 seconds later, at 14:35, Alex Kile trimmed the Buckeye lead to one. Michigan wouldn't be able to tie it up and officially make this a nightmare for Ohio State until the third period when Kyle Conner put one in on the powerplay at 1:19. How did they get that powerplay, you ask? Tomkins misplayed a puck behind the net, forcing OSU to hook a Wolverine before he could put it in the empty net.
But another Ohio State penalty would pay off as Jobst hit David Gust flying out of the penalty box. He went down and converted with his fifth of the year to give OSU the lead back at 4-3 with just over 13 minutes left in regulation. Ohio State kept denying Michigan's chances over and over until J.T. Compher, the Wolverine captain, tied it up yet again with 2:41 left. Cristoval Nieves, the Wolverine who was robbed of a goal after being the one hooked after Tomkins misplayed the puck and allowed the open net, then gave Michigan its first lead of the game at 18:26.
It looked like that was all she wrote for the Bucks. They wouldn't even get a point despite leading by three goals more than halfway through the game. And then Anthony Greco happened. With just 6.9 seconds remaining, Greco put in his second of the game and tenth of the year to knot the game at five and send it to overtime:
In the extra frame, Michigan would get a powerplay at 1:35 but have it erased with a call against them. Tomkins made a key stop on Blue Jackets first round pick Zach Werenski while Michigan senior goalie Steve Racine made a few clutch stops of his own. So onto the shootout yet again, where Ohio State lost a point last weekend to Wisconsin.
Compher would score for Michigan to give them the early 1-0 lead in the shootout and it would stay that way until OSU scored in the third frame to knot it at one. OSU would go up 2-1 in the shootout before Motte would keep Michigan alive. It would be save after save until the ninth round when Ohio State would finally put it away on a Dakota Joshua tally and take the shootout and extra Big Ten conference point.
Tomkins was far from great so let's hope Christian Frey gets his job back and this was just a rest, but besides that and a few dumb penalties, you really can't complain when Ohio State wins yet another game over a top 10 team. Any way you can get that win, you take it and the Buckeyes almost blew it but still got out of there with the extra point. It's really all you can ask.
The Buckeyes and Wolverines will meet again on Sunday at 5 p.m. in Ann Arbor where OSU will hope to make it their second series in the last three where they took two in a row from top 10 teams.