ANN ARBOR, Mich. — One night later, it was almost a mirror image. But the outcome was exactly the opposite.
Last night at Yost Ice Arena, Ohio State tied the game less than a minute into the third, and scored the go-ahead goal just seconds after en route to a 7-5 win.
Tonight, it was No. 6 Michigan that used the early minutes of the third period to change the tide of the game.
“It was a really tough loss last night when they came back,” Michigan captain Andrew Ebbett said. “But we knew if they did that to us we had a chance to do it tonight.”
Just seconds into the third, Andrew Ebbett sent a cross-ice pass to Brandon Kaleniecki on the edge of the crease. Kaleniecki one-touched the pass by goaltender Dave Caruso to knot the game at 2-2.
Travis Turnbull scored the game-winner two minutes later, firing a shot through Caruso’s five hole for the 3-2 Michigan win.
Ohio State’s best chance to tie came in the dying seconds of the game, after Michigan missed the open net twice. Amidst a scramble in the Wolverine crease, Dan Knapp stared at an open net. Wolverines goaltender Noah Ruden forced Knapp to a sharp angle, and Knapp backhanded the puck just wide of the net.
“I was a little concerned why we didn’t score in the empty net,” Ruden said. “We hit the outside of the net with 30 seconds left and I’m thinking to myself, ‘They’re going to come back and get a chance because that’s just life.’
“I was trying to find the puck anyway I could, and I think I got a skate on it eventually.”
But while last night’s game was a closely contested affair through two periods, Ohio State controlled the majority of play until Kaleniecki’s goal.
“I can’t say it was a good game for us,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “But it was a good period and a good outcome.”
The Buckeyes outshot Michigan, 29-13, through the first 40 minutes, but most of the shots were from the perimeter unlike last night’s wild affair.
“I think their defense started backing off,” Tom Fritsche said. “Yesterday they were up in the play more and gave us more odd-man rushes. But tonight they played pretty smart back there.”
When the Buckeyes did get a chance, Ruden was there for the save, stopping a career-high 39 shots, including 27 through the first two periods.
“For the first two periods we were on our heels and he made some good saves,” Berenson said. “He gave us a chance.”
Michigan was shotless for the first five minutes of the game and the first eight minutes of the second, with the Buckeyes putting on the pressure in the Wolverine zone. Michigan went without a first period goal for the third straight game.
A Wolverine offensive mix-up led to the first Buckeye goal. Ebbett left the puck for Danny Fardig near center ice, but John Dingle took Fardig out. Tom Fritsche picked up the loose puck and rifled a shot top corner past Ruden.
The Wolverines finally notched a goal midway through the second, when Tim Miller deposited a juicy rebound behind Caruso.
The Buckeyes didn’t let the Wolverines enjoy their goal, scoring 30 seconds later. Jack Johnson attempted to clear the zone with a blind backhand, but it landed right on a Buckeye stick. Sean Collins’ shot through traffic beat Ruden for the 2-1 lead.
With the series split, Michigan moves to third place and Ohio State fell to sixth place in the tight CCHA standings.
“It’s kind of like the playoffs from here on out,” Fritsche said. “Those are the kind of games we like and I think our team will thrive on that.”