COLUMBUS, Ohio — After trailing 1-0 through the first period, the Ohio State Buckeyes responded by playing 40 minutes of dominant hockey over the final 40 minutes.
The result was Ohio State defeating No. 14 Northern Michigan, 4-1, Friday afternoon.
“I thought [the Buckeyes] were a good team, they played well,” Wildcats coach Walt Kyle said. “We had an opportunity to catch them in the standings today and I think they soundly took the game to us.”
After Northern Michigan outshot Ohio State, 6-5, in a physical first period, the Buckeyes came back to outshoot the Wildcats, 33-7, in the final two periods.
“After the first period, we gave our guys an earful,” Buckeyes coach Mark Osiecki said. “We didn’t play very well the first period. I thought the second period and third, we had a great response.”
Ohio State’s defense has been stingy as it has only allowed one goal in the last four games. The Buckeyes have won four in a row and have a six-game unbeaten streak (5-0-1).
“It isn’t anything that we’re doing system-wise or from our defensemen or our goaltenders,” Osiecki said about the squad’s defensive play. “It has been a collective group effort. Our forwards are moving their feet coming back through the middle with a good stick. And just being smart and being smart with the puck.”
Northern Michigan is winless in its last six contests (0-3-3).
With the game tied at one with 9:22 remaining in the game, Danny Dries was knocked in the head by Northern Michigan’s Jake Baker. The contact resulted in a contact to the head major penalty and game misconduct. Just 25 seconds into the power play, Chris Crane knocked home a loose puck past NMU goalie Reid Ellingson to give Ohio State the eventual game-winner.
“If you look at the shots on goal, we outshot them all night,” Crane said. “I think just having the confidence going into the power play was our mentality. Like I said, it worked out for us and we kept pouring it on in the end.”
The Buckeyes spent almost seven minutes of the final 9:22 on the power play. Ohio State had seven power plays whereas NMU had one.
“The key of the game wasn’t penalty killing, the key to the game was we got outworked tonight big-time,” Kyle said.
Ohio State senior captain Cory Schneider scored a pair of insurance goals. His first goal came at the end of an OSU power play on a rebound at 17:28 of the third period. His second goal came with 67 ticks remaining as he fired a shot into NMU’s empty net.
Northern Michigan struck first 16:07 into the game as Kory Kaunisto picked off Curtis Gedig’s pass along the boards and Kaunisto set up Stephan Vigier for a one-timer for his sixth goal of the year. The shot was a change-up that slipped under the glove of Cal Heeter.
“We came out in the first period and didn’t play Ohio State hockey,” Crane said. “Coach Osiecki let us know that. I think he got us ready for the second and third and we played our game.”
Ohio State responded early in the second as Alex Szczechura’s wrap-around attempt snuck under the stick of Ellingson.
Ohio State had a number of other opportunities in the second period, but was unable to capitalize. Szczechura had an opportunity at the end of a 5-on-3 power play ring off the post. The Buckeyes outshot the Wildcats, 12-3, in the second period.
“They came at us hard [and] we felt lucky to get out of the second period
where we were,” Kyle said. “You have to look at the other side of the coin, ‘Hey, we just played awful and here we are.’”