COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Michigan Wolverines used stifling defense and capitalized on their power plays as they defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes 2-1 in Value City Arena Saturday night.
The victory gives the Wolverines just their second conference win in their last eight games. With the loss, Ohio State had a four-game home winning streak snapped. Ohio State topped Michigan on Friday 5-3.
The Buckeyes went into Saturday’s game looking for their first sweep of the Wolverines in over 20 years. Instead, the teams split for the sixth time in their last seven series.
“From our perspective, it was another close game and you knew it would be,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said.
The Wolverines got a pair of power-play goals, as the Wolverines went two-for-six on the man-advantage.
Michigan got their first goal 9:50 into the first when Chris Summers’ slap shot beat the glove of Ohio State goalie Cal Heeter. The goal came 1:29 after Ohio State’s Brandon Martell’s interference penalty.
“I think it was huge,” Summers said about his goal. “Anytime you get the first goal in a game, especially in the first period, that is definitely momentum headed your way.”
“I think the first goal was a big goal,” Berenson said. “It held up for a long while and put us in a good, defensive mode the rest of the game.”
Ohio State defenseman Corey Toy committed an elbowing penalty after a blown whistle, as Michigan was just 13 seconds into a five-on four with 58 seconds remaining in the second period. Ohio State coach John Markell called the penalty ‘stupid,’ and he was upset with his junior defenseman.
“We gave them three five-on-threes this weekend with hitting to the head,” Markell said. “We just cost ourselves another game with a stupid penalty. What is disturbing is they are supposedly tough and you’re not going to rattle another guy. They have a facemask on; it means nothing. We’re getting it on retaliatory. It cost us the game. When you give that team five-on-threes, they’re going to score. That is the difference.”
Ohio State killed the first 58 seconds off on the five-on-three with ease. However, the Wolverines got the eventual game-winner 21 seconds into the third when Matt Rust shot the puck past Heeter on a rebound off a Chris Brown shot.
“It was huge,” Berenson said about Rust’s goal. “When you come out and you get the rest between periods, you got good ice, you got to capitalize on that and we did and it was huge.”
Ohio State rallied with a goal in the final seconds on a goal by John Albert. Ohio State had an opportunity to tie the game at the buzzer with a rush up the ice following Albert’s goal, but Zac Dalpe’s centering feed from behind the net went wide of everyone.
“I think tonight, we were on the unlucky side of bounces,” Dalpe said. “We weren’t getting pucks deep and we were shying away a bit.”
“I thought (Michigan) played better defense tonight,” Markell said. “It was a little tougher to get the puck to the front of the net, and I thought we had some opportunities to get there tonight.”
“We played better defensively tonight,” Berenson said. “They had a couple good isolated chances.”
With the victory, Michigan climbed back out of their tie for last place in the CCHA, as Western Michigan lost in a shootout to the Alaska Nanooks.
“We are trying to focus and get better every game,” Summers said. “As far as the standings are concerned, it is kind of in the back of our mind. Some guys might use that as motivation, but as a team, we’re going to work to improve every game.”
“I don’t know when the time that happened at all to Michigan,” Berenson said about his Wolverines being in last place. “Our team is proud, they have high expectations. As Chris said, we try to get better every game.”
Ohio State came into the Saturday’s game right in a log jam in the middle of the CCHA standings. Their opportunity to improve their standings going into the Christmas break goes down next week, as they have a home-and-home with No. 1 Miami.
“We have had some really good nights and some really bad nights,” Dalpe said about the season thus far. “We have to find a way to stay even keel. If we do win a Friday night like last night, we can’t get ahead of ourselves.”
Michigan outshot Ohio State for the game 36-27. Heeter followed Friday’s solid performance, stopping 34-of-36. Michigan’s Bryan Hogan stopped 26-of-27.