COLUMBUS, Ohio — Despite outshooting the No. 19 Northern Michigan Wildcats, 33-10, through two periods, the Ohio State Buckeyes found themselves in a 2-2 tie, but an outmanned Northern Michigan squad faltered as Chris Crane’s two-point effort in the third period boosted the Buckeyes to a 4-2 victory Saturday night.
“It is our hockey, it is Buckeye hockey to win the third period,” Crane said. “We came out Friday and won the third period and we came out tonight and won the third period. I think that is part of our mentality we try to bring.”
Ohio State completed its first weekend sweep since Dec. 2-3, 2011 against Lake Superior State. Northern Michigan is winless in four straight.
Northern Michigan played without two if its top three scorers.
“We had a tough lineup in there tonight,” Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle said. “(Goaltender Jared) Coreau kept it 2-2 and then we had two turnovers on our end by two defensemen and they scored twice on it. They could have had a number of others and they outplayed us and were the much better team this weekend.”
The Buckeyes outshot the Wildcats, 42-14, for the game.
Northern Michigan was dealt a blow before Saturday’s contest when leading scorer Matt Thurber was suspended by the CCHA for his hit to the head on Ohio State’s Alex Lippincott Friday evening. Thurber was initially given a game misconduct penalty which would have allowed him to play tonight. Kyle was critical of the original call by on-ice officials, and was not pleased with the explanation given by the CCHA on Saturday for Thurber’s suspension.
“I didn’t get a good enough (explanation), I can tell you that,” Kyle said.
“Obviously they were going to review it,” Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki said. “(Director of CCHA officials Steve Piotrowski) called us and asked and obviously we have our thoughts. I am sure Walt had his thoughts. We sat down with officials at the beginning of the year and that is the point of emphasis.”
Osiecki asked the league to take a look at the hit which caused Lippincott to miss the rest of Friday’s and Saturday’s entire contest.
The Wildcats lost another forward Saturday, as junior Erik Higby was given a game disqualification for slamming an elbow into the head of Ohio State forward Alex Szczechura during the second period. The hit also resulted in a major penalty for the Buckeyes. Higby will be forced to sit out the Wildcats’ next contest Friday against Alaska.
With the score knotted at one early in the second period, the Buckeyes took advantage of the five minute power play by forcing another penalty from Northern Michigan’s Stephan Viger. Ohio State’s five-on-three power play ended in a go-ahead goal by sophomore Ryan Dzingel on a one-timer to give the Buckeyes a 2-1 advantage 2:46 into the second.
The Wildcats answered Dzingel’s goal four minutes later when Scott Macaulay scored his second of the season, as Northern Michigan scored on a five-on-three power play.
With the game tied at two entering the third, Crane centered the puck for Szczechura, who put the puck in the net 1:50 into the third for the game-winner.
“For Al (Szczechura), he’s been in and out of the lineup and he is an offensive guy,” Osiecki said. “If he is in the lineup, he needs to play with some offensive guys. It is our job as coaches to put him in that situation.”
The Buckeyes added an insurance goal midway through the third when Crane scored off a rebound from a Craig Dalrymple shot.
“We were on a really short bench,” Kyle said. “We had a lot of guys in there who had very few minutes of college hockey. We had to shorten the bench.”
Northern Michigan got on the board 9:43 into the first when Ryan Daugherty blocked Brandon Martell’s shot from the blue line and led a breakaway, which ended in a shot over the glove of Ohio State goaltender Collin Olson’s glove.
Ohio State answered 1:04 into the second when Riley Simpson scored his first collegiate goal off his own rebound to tie the game at one.