Good things are happening for Ohio State teams visiting Ann Arbor, Mich., on Thanksgiving weekend, a trend that hopefully will continue tomorrow, as the No. 15 Ohio State men’s hockey team defeated No. 17 Michigan on the road by a score of 3-2.
Michigan came hot out of the gate in this one, outshooting the Buckeyes 14-9 in the first period and taking a 1-0 lead on a goal by Sam Piazza. The Wolverines would hold onto that lead into intermission.
But that’d be the only lead Michigan would have all night as Ohio State came back and took control from thereon.
This game was all Ohio State in the second and third period, as the Buckeyes came back from the one goal deficit and outshot the Wolverines 27-19 over the final two frames. You can’t even factor in the Buckeyes being behind into that, as OSU evened up the score just one minute into the second period, as Freddy Gerard scored his second of the year off a feed from Tanner Laczynski.
That’d be the only tally of the second period, but the Buckeyes firmly asserted themselves and weren’t going to be dominated by the traditional power from Ann Arbor. Michigan outshot OSU 11-9 in the period, but OSU played them even with the score tied—something they haven’t done enough of this season against inferior opponents.
And boy would that be a good sign going into the third, where OSU not only dominated, but played their best period of the season. They outshot Michigan 18-8 in and scored two goals in the period to take the win.
John Wiitala fired a shot from the top of the faceoff circle on the powerplay to make it 2-1 Ohio State, giving the Buckeyes their first lead on the night. His fourth of the year was assisted by Wyatt Ege and Ronnie Hein.
Just for good measure, Gerard scored again by swooping into the Michigan zone on an innocently developing play and stole the puck right off a UM defender’s stick. He just took it right away and put it past Michigan goalie and Avril’s long lost brother Hayden Lavigne.
That’s inexcusable play from the UM defender but hey, we’ll take it.
Michigan would pull the goalie and bring on the extra attacker late in the third, generating one goal from Josh Norris to cut the OSU lead down to one, but that was as close as the Wolverines would get. Sean Romeo saved 31-of-33 shots on the night and, coming in with a .924 save percentage on the season, has been the biggest single reason OSU’s season has gone as well as it has so far.
Ohio State held on for the 3-2 lead and guaranteed series draw minimum on the road in conference, something that’s nothing to sneeze at after getting swept by Notre Dame in early November at home.
And it should not be overstated how much Ohio State dominated when this game mattered. Putting up 18 shots in one period against someone like Robert Morris would be impressive. To do it at Michigan is something this team didn’t seem capable of. This isn’t a team like Penn State that fires from all angles; they’re more measured in their shot attempts so 18 put on goal really is an accomplishment.
Ohio State hasn’t been a great possession team in any of the four years I’ve covered them, but in the third period tonight they showed what they can be. If the Buckeyes can assert their will in this fashion more often, maybe not to this degree but more consistently, it would do wonders for their postseason chances.
At one point, it seemed the Buckeyes were a team on the verge of being exposed by higher end talent once they got deep into the conference play. But tonight was the first time it really looked like Ohio State could be tournament bound this season.
Now they’ve just gotta go out and do it again tomorrow in Ann Arbor.