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College Hockey:
Wolverines Start Fast, Hold On To Beat Buckeyes

— As in Friday’s contest, Michigan scored three goals in the first ten minutes of the game, but Ohio State battled until the final buzzer in Michigan’s 6-3 win in Yost Arena.

Eric Nystrom had two goals — including the game-winner — and Mike Komisarek registered three assists in the win. R.J. Umberger had two for Ohio State, his second breaking Michigan’s streak of 64 consecutive successful penalty-kills.

After Ohio State took a 1-0 lead early in the first, the Wolverines scored on their first shot on goal. Josh Blackburn made 18 saves in the contest for Michigan, and Mike Betz stopped 17 for Ohio State, but the shot totals were deceptive as the game saw plenty of back-and-forth action and shots blocked by both defenses.

It wasn’t until J.J. Swistak made it 6-3 with his shorthanded goal — scored three-on-four late in the second period — that the Wolverines felt as though they controlled the outcome of the game.

“When Swistak scored the shorthanded goal, that really cemented it,” said Michigan head coach Red Berenson.

Ohio State head coach John Markell said, “I thought that we played well, and the time of the shorthanded goal … It’s tough to say anything about it. Obviously, I’m disappointed, but we can’t think about it too long. We’ve got another game on Monday.”

The opening minutes of this contest saw more action in the Michigan end than did the whole of the first period from Friday night, but the Wolverines had still registered three goals in the first 10 minutes of the contest, just as they had the night before.

Umberger scored the first goal of the weekend for the Buckeyes at 5:22 to give OSU a brief 1-0 lead. With play in the Michigan end, Daymen Bencharski was taken off the puck by a Wolverine defender, but the puck squirted back behind the cage, where Dave Steckel picked it up after muscling his way past a Michigan player along the boards. Steckel shot to Umberger at the top of the slot, and the OSU sophomore’s 17th goal of the season beat Josh Blackburn high on the glove side.

Michigan answered two minutes later with two goals scored less than a minute apart. At 7:12, Mark Mink took advantage of Eric Skaug’s misstep in front of the Buckeye net, skating past the fallen OSU player and making a nice move to change hands before banking the shot in off of Betz’s right leg.

Then at 7:49, Nystrom scored his first of the night, tipping in Komisarek’s shot from the top of the slot.

At 9:11, Brandon Rogers put the Wolverines ahead 3-1 with a long slapper from the blue line, a shot that caught Betz napping.

But Umberger answered for the Buckeyes on the power play at 11:23, a blast from the right circle that made the score 3-2 after the first.

The penalty-filled second period lasted an hour and saw four goals. Buckeye Paul Caponigri tipped in Mike McCormick’s power-play shot at 7:17, briefly tying the game at 3-3.

The Wolverines responded, though, with three more goals. Nystrom earned his second of the evening at 9:24, shoving in the puck from the crease under Betz’s pads moments after a faceoff in the OSU zone.

At 14:08, Craig Murray made it 5-3 on the Michigan power play, a tic-tac-toe affair from John Shouneyia — who had an outstanding weekend — and Komisarek. And finally, at 17:04 Swistak beat Betz five-hole immediately after the faceoff was returned to the OSU zone because the Buckeyes had iced the puck on the power play.

“I think it was more typical of Michigan-Ohio State,” said Berenson. “When you play back-to-back games, there’s going to be some emotion that carries over. They’re power play cracked our penalty killing, which had been flawless. They were in the game. We happened to score the goals we needed to.

“It was good hockey. It was entertaining hockey.”

Next week, the Wolverines (20-9-5, 17-5-4 CCHA) face Western Michigan in a home-and-home series for the final regular-season weekend of the year, while Ohio State (16-14-4, 11-11-4 CCHA) faces Miami at home Monday, Feb. 25, before traveling to play the RedHawks in Oxford on Friday, Mar. 1.

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