The Ohio State Buckeyes are one win away from their first Big Ten Tournament title, as they took down No. 11 Michigan, 3-2, in overtime on Saturday night in Nationwide Arena—just down the road from the OSU campus. They’ll take on No. 5 (and Big Ten regular season champion) Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., next weekend.
We’ll get to that one, but before being able to take on the Irish, the Buckeyes had to survive No. 11 and surging Michigan. OSU hadn’t lost to UM once this season coming into this weekend, but the Wolverines had risen to No. 11 in the country and No. 3 in the Big Ten. It wouldn’t be easy even for the No. 6 Buckeyes.
This one would go back and forth from the first period on, with Ohio State never trailing for a second in this one—but never leading by more than one goal either. They’d still outshot Michigan despite never trailing, 35-31, but could never quite break it open.
Michigan came out firing, outshooting the Buckeyes 7-2 at one point in the first, but couldn’t break through Sean Romeo’s brick wall in net. They’d be outshot 33-24 over the rest of the game.
If Romeo’s efforts in net were the one consistency throughout this year, Gordi Myer’s offense was the opposite of that. He was one of the few Buckeyes without a goal all season, despite playing in 34 games coming into tonight.
So naturally, Myer scored the opener in this one.
With the Buckeyes on the powerplay after a Cooper Marody hooking penalty, Myer took a shot from the uncovered point, with a screen in front, and it somehow took a complicated path past Michigan goalie Hayden Lavigne and into the back of the net. Matt Miller and Dakota Joshua had the helpers on the goal at 16:02 of the first.
The second period would also have a single goal scored in it, but if you’ve been reading so far, you know that Ohio State never lead by two goals in this one. So naturally, it was Michigan that scored to tie the game back up at one apiece.
Marody redeemed himself after taking the penalty leading to Myer’s goal and tied the game up at 11:16 of the second. And that’d be all the scoring in the period. Both teams had a powerplay opportunity in the second, but neither could convert. So onto the third tied at one. Not horrifying at all.
But on its fourth powerplay opportunity of the game, Ohio State took their lead back. Dakota Joshua batted the puck out of the air and into the back of the net past Lavigne off a John Wiitala shot. Matt Miller had the secondary assist.
Michigan would tie it back up at 7:27 though, on a powerplay of their own. Janik Moser was sent off for hooking and Michigan tied it back up just seven seconds into the powerplay, on a second goal by Marody. Not ideal.
And that’d be it for regulation. Ohio State and Michigan going to overtime in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals with the right to face regular season Big Ten champion Notre Dame next weekend. The stakes were not small here.
Ohio State apparently didn’t mind the moment at all as Matthew Weis ended it just 32 seconds into overtime.
Weis got free on a breakout with Tanner Laczynski, as he found an open spot on the left faceoff circle. Tanner sent the pass across the ice and Weis sent the Buckeyes to the conference championship game.
Buckeyes WIN!— Ohio State M Hockey (@OhioState_MHKY) March 11, 2018
Ohio State with a 3-2 OT WIN over the Wolverines in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals!
Ohio State is moving on to the Big Ten Championship game! pic.twitter.com/t1hJ3v2z0Z
That overtime went about as well as you could’ve possibly hoped. Michigan didn’t lead for a second in this one and that held as overtime ended with Weis’ 12th of the year.
And so we move onto the Big Ten championship game on St. Patrick’s Day at Notre Dame. Boy would it be fun to pull an upset in that one.