COLUMBUS, Ohio — Who better to sum up Ohio State’s high-scoring, come-from-behind, 6-5 win over Michigan than the senior who scored the game-winning goal with 1:30 left in regulation?
“It was Ohio State-Michigan,” said Mathieu Beaudoin, who opened and closed the scoring for the Buckeyes. “It is what it is.”
So what was it? A sleepy first period with the Wolverines scoring on their 10th shot on goal at 13:40 to take a 1-0 lead and the Buckeyes scoring on their first shot at 16:12 to tie it 1-1 after one, followed by a frenetic six-goal middle frame in which OSU scored twice 20 seconds apart in the final minutes to tie it 4-4, and a tense third stanza that culminated in a near-bench clearing skirmish and over 30 penalty minutes at the final buzzer.
“The game was a game of two games,” said Michigan head coach Red Berenson. “I thought we were much the better team in the first half of the game, and then once Ohio State…had that two-minute splurge at the end of the second period that got them back in the game, and after that it was anyone’s game. We might have had the best chances in the first half of the third, and then they had the best chances in the second half.
“It was a coach’s nightmare. It was a goalie’s nightmare. Too many goals against. Too many mistakes, turnovers, whatever.”
With 11 goals scored in the contest, many players from each squad had multi-point games, and neither goaltender’s save percentage was particularly pretty. Defenseman Mark Mitera led all Wolverines in scoring with three helpers as five different Michigan players accounted for the goals.
Four Buckeye seniors scored goals in their last-ever game at the Schottenstein Center, but OSU senior Andrew Schembri had four assists to lead all Bucks in the tally sheet.
“That was in the script, wasn’t it,” quipped Ohio State head coach John Markell.
“Both teams made enough mistakes, but the seniors — we knew it was going to be emotional. You could see it sapping our energy in the first period. An emotional loss last night and then in the first period, one shot on net — but, hey, we had one goal. They had 10 [shots] and they had one goal.
“It’s about bounces and you have to create your own bounces, and I thought we did after we got down 4-2.”
Kevin Porter gave the Wolverines their first lead when T.J. Hensick hit him with a long-shot pass at the top of the slot and Porter skated in and one-timed it low and left past Joseph Palmer at 13:40 in the first. Beaudoin answered for the Buckeyes just under three minutes later when he backhanded the puck past Billy Sauer on a scrambled play in front of the Michigan net.
Markell said that the Buckeyes made systems changes between the first and second periods to adjust to Michigan’s high-tempo game.
“We certainly didn’t win the first part of the game…but we made some adjustments and it worked for us. Guys bought into it and we were able to create more energy for ourselves and it worked.”
It didn’t work immediately, but the Buckeyes did more than keep pace with the Wolverines, with three even-strength goals to Michigan’s one, plus the Wolverines’ two-on-one shorthanded breakaway and five-on-three power-play tally.
Travis Turnbull gave Michigan the 2-1 edge at 1:47 when he picked up Brandon Naurato’s rebound, and Naurato had a goal of his own, his second of the weekend, at 6:53 with a two-man Michigan advantage to give the Wolverines a 3-1 lead.
OSU’s Jason DeSantis scored at 8:29 from the right circle on a feed from Corey Elkins to pull the Bucks within one, but less than a minute later, Danny Fardig scored his second goal of the season on a two-on-one shorthanded breakaway with Chad Kolarik to put the Wolverines up by two.
Schembri’s hard work along the boards led to Matt Waddell’s clean shot from the left circle at 17:55 to make it 4-3, and Schembri did the set-up work that forced Sauer to miscalculate on a two-man break with Schembri left and Kenny Bernard right on Bernard’s goal at 18:15.
The Buckeyes made quick work of an early third-period power play, with Tyson Strachan scoring 33 seconds after Turnbull went to the box for goaltender interference to take their first lead of the game, but given the way this game and the recent series between these two teams have gone, another Wolverine goal to tie the game was hardly unexpected.
At 14:54, Tim Miller banked in the puck off the back of Palmer’s leg, from behind the goal line, to tie it 5-5 just after a Michigan power play had expired.
And when Beaudoin scored the game-winner at 18:30 from Kenny Bernard’s cross-ice pass, he wasn’t even sure the puck had gone in.
“I didn’t realize it until everyone jumped on me,” said Beaudoin. “I got the puck and Coach is always telling me to shoot the puck, so I just decided to get it on net, and I saw it going in [but] it took me a little while to realize that it was in, it was a goal, we were leading the game.”
The pushing and shoving at the end of the game began with Buckeye Zach Pelletier in front of the OSU net, and coaches, officials, and players from each team worked to keep it from getting out of hand. There were many minor penalties assessed, and for his efforts Pelletier earned a game disqualification.
Both Berenson and Markell agreed that the skirmish was a poor way to end the contest.
“It’s not what you like to see,” said Berenson. “It’s not in the spirit of college sports. It doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t accomplish anything. It just looks bad, sets a bad example.”
Markell said the emotion at the end may have stemmed from the hit that Tommy Goebel took from Jack Johnson early in the second period of Friday’s 4-3 Michigan win. “It’s just very unfortunate what happened at the end. I don’t know how it started. I’ll have to watch the tape. It’s not what you want. It’s not good for college hockey.”
The Wolverines went 1-for-6 on the power play, the Buckeyes 1-for-4. Sauer had 17 saves on the loss; Palmer stopped 31 of 36.
With the split on the weekend, Michigan (23-12-1, 18-9-1 CCHA) finishes the regular season in second place in the CCHA standings, and will sit out the first round of playoffs next week. Ohio State (14-15-5, 12-12-4) will finishes seventh and hosts Northern Michigan for two-of-three game series beginning March 2 at the OSU Ice Arena.