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No. 6 Ohio State sweeps No. 17 Michigan with 5-3 victory

The Buckeyes completed the season sweep of the Wolverines with their fourth straight win over Michigan this year

COLLEGE HOCKEY: NOV 25 Ohio State at Michigan Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As usual, Michigan is hailing to the victors from Columbus, Ohio. That’s right: No. 6 Ohio State swept No. 17 Michigan this weekend with the 5-3 victory on Saturday night and completed the series sweep as the Buckeyes previously swept Michigan in November.

Ohio State has now won nine out of their last 10, and seven out of eight since the end of the winter break. Even more importantly, they now sit comfortably in second place in the Big Ten, opening up a six point lead on new third place team Wisconsin in conference play with just eight conference games to go.

Those eight games include showdowns with the No. 1 team in the country Notre Dame, Minnesota and Wisconsin, so it won’t be easy to hold onto that No. 2 spot. But with the way OSU has played since December, it’s hard to doubt them.

The best part was that this game was much more encouraging in terms of process than Friday night’s more impressive-on-paper 4-0 win against the Wolverines. On Friday night, Ohio State was outshot by 12 shots and the shutout from Sean Romeo made the game less interesting than it otherwise should’ve been.

Romeo would be solid in this one, saving 28/31 shots on goal, but it’d be Ohio State’s possession prior to the third period that gave the Buckeyes the real advantage, saving Romeo from having to put the team on his back once again.

OSU outshot Michigan 11-6 in the first and 11-7 in the second. Michigan would pump 18 shots on net to Ohio State’s seven in the third, but the Buckeyes were up by at least two goals for the entire period and score effects had taken over. An 18-7 mark in a scoreless first period would be cause for concern; an 18-7 mark when up multiple goals after dominating for the first two periods is excusable.

It actually looked like this one would be more complicated than the final score let on. Despite the shot totals in the first and second, it wouldn’t be until nearly three quarters of the way through the second that Ohio State would take a permanent lead.

Michigan actually struck first tonight, taking a page out of Ohio State’s Friday playbook and scoring first despite getting outshot. But Ohio State would get some luck Michigan couldn’t find on Friday.

Freddy Gerard shot a puck from about as safe an area as a goalie can ask for. Except Michigan goalie Hayden Lavigne let out a rebound that looked like it was knocked in by a way too casual Michigan defender standing in front of the goalie. Judge for yourself:

No matter the cause, it was Gerard’s eighth of the year and Ohio State had this one tied up going into the first intermission.

The second period would be a back and forth affair for the first half and then Ohio State putting their foot down in the second. And it was once again Freddy Gerard who got it going, this time just 26 seconds into the second.

Michigan took the puck up the ice from deep in their own zone, but turned it over to Matthew Weis in the neutral zone. He stopped with one defender back and fed Tanner Laczynski across the netmouth. His shot was stopped, but Gerard was there to put in the rebound. The play looks crazier than I just made it sound. Gerard scored two weird ones tonight, but hey they still count.

Michigan would answer with a goal at 9:57 of the second to tie it up once again, but it didn’t last long. Just over three minutes later, John Wiitala stole the puck in the offensive zone and fed Ronnie Hein in the slot. That was all she wrote:

Ohio State would lead for the rest of the game. But they weren’t done in the second. Just three and a half minutes after that, at 16:56, they struck again.

Brendon Kearney took a pass from the point, skated in to the top of the circles, and rifled it past Lavigne:

Wyatt Ege set him up with a pass from the wall, allowing Kearney to score what would stand as the game winner.

In the third, Michigan would turn on the jets and pumped 18 shots on Sean Romeo, but it’d be too little, too late.

Mason Jobst effectively ended any minuscule chances of a Wolverine comeback, scoring an insurance goal at 11:48 of the third. Michigan would answer back with a score from the beautifully named Jake Slaker at 17:30, but it was over by that point.

Ohio State held on for the 5-3 victory and season sweep of that team up north. They improve to an astounding 17-5-4 on the season. If you would’ve told me two years ago that this team would be headed for the top-5 and sweeping Michigan, I would’ve thought you were crazy.

Either way, the Buckeyes face Michigan State next weekend and have to avoid looking ahead to the looming showdown with No. 1 Notre Dame the week after that. We’ll really see what this Buckeye team is made of if they can take care of business against the Spartans in Columbus and then earn a split at least with Notre Dame.

Crazier things have happened.