Buckeyes forward John Witala celebrates his team’s first goal of the game by Tanner Lacyznski in the second period.
Yost Ice Arena, Ann Arbor, Michigan: On Friday night the 11th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes hockey team rolled into Ann Arbor to take on their bitter rivals. Michigan has been having an off year in hockey this season having only won 1 game in conference play, and only 8 overall. The Buckeyes are the second best scoring team in the nation averaging 4 goals a game, only trailing Penn State in that category. They are the only two teams in the nation averaging 4 goals a game or above.
Michigan was well rested coming off a bye week while the Buckeyes just lost two tough games to Wisconsin, one in overtime at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Both teams came strong out of the gate trading several hits in front of a raucous crowd. At the 8:21 mark it was Michigan’s Evan Allen who was able to beat Buckeye netminder Christian Frey. The 1-0 lead held up until, with 33 seconds left in the period, the Wolverines Adam Winborg was able to score his 5th goal of the season, helping the Wolverines go into the break with a 2-0 lead.
Michigan came out strong in the second period keeping the Buckeyes shots to a minimum and at the 6:47 mark local boy Cooper Marody scored his first goal of the year. But The Buckeyes are a tenacious team with a never say die attitude and fought back drawing a penalty to the Wolverines catching them on a big mistake with too many men on the ice. The Buckeyes were able to take advantage as near the end of the power play Tanner Laczynski was able to net his 7th of the year with help from his teammates Matt Miller & Matt Joyaux. Lazcynski, from Shorewood, Illinois is having an outstanding freshman season.
But things got bad fast as Marody scored two more goals in the period for the hat trick and a big 5-1 Michigan lead going into the third. The Buckeyes were getting badly outshot at this point and their Head Coach Steve Rohlik would have to make some serious adjustments.
Whatever Rohlik told his boys in the locker room worked because before you couldn’t even blink after the referee dropped the puck in the faceoff, it was the captain Nick Schilkey getting the big goal only 6 seconds in! He was assisted by Mason Jobst, who with that point kept his 11 consecutive game point streak alive.
After the faceoff, it was the Buckeyes Miguel Fidler putting the puck in the back of the net giving the Buckeyes 2 goals in just 23 seconds!!! The Florida Panther prospect was assisted by Schilkey and Jobst.
The Buckeyes played more aggressively in the third and were able to beat the Wolverine netminder once more on the power play, silencing the crowd and cutting the lead to only 5-4, after Dearborn Michigan native Dakota Joshua picked up his 5th goal of the season assisted by defenseman Gordi Myer and Schilkey.
The teams went back and forth with the Buckeyes getting good chances, but the comeback stalled out there giving Michigan the 5-4 victory. Both teams had 7 penalties on the night while the Buckeyes were outshot 38-29 while they dominated in the faceoff circle with Jobst winning 15 and Joshua winning 9. Local Buckeye from Chelsea Ronnie Hein won 2 faceoffs and had 2 big shots on goal in limited playing time as he was injured during the game.
Game 2: On Saturday the two teams squared off again. This time it was the Buckeyes striking first on the power play as Schilkey netted his 19th goal of the season assisted by Jobst and Myer. Schilkey’s great play is why many people have him in the conversation for the Hobey Baker award.
But Michigan came back 4 minutes later with Marody scoring unassisted. Dakota Joshua answered back 2 minutes later assisted by David Gust & Sasha Laroocque. But then the Wolverines went on a tear scoring 3 goals in a row and with the early part of the second period had a big 4-1 lead. But the Buckeyes were in this very predicament the night before and didn’t roll over and weren’t about to tonight either.
Halfway through the period with Michigan’s James Sanchez off for a cross check, Jobst scored his 11th of the season assisted by Myer and Gubst. There were plenty of penalties to this point and the game was getting very chippy. There were several slashes and trips from the U of M players and at the 7:18 mark of the second period 4 players went off for unsportsmanlike conduct calls. Let’s face it, these two schools are bitter rivals and it shows.
Michigan added another goal to take a 5-2 lead but from the end of the second period on it was all Buckeyes as they skated away from Michigan defenders, laid out great hits, and were able to entice the Wolverines to take dumb penalties leading to Buckeye goals, as they took advantage of the power play. John Wiitala got his 9th goal of the year to cut into the lead then Jobst scored his 12th of the season the power play to tie it up.
Both teams went back and forth as Ohio State netminder Matt Tomkins, who subbed in for Frey in the 2nd, stood tall, making many outstanding saves. It looked like the regulation time was going to expire in a tie until the Captain Schilkey blasted a shot past the Wolverine goaltender Hayden Lavigne for the go ahead goal with only 30 seconds left! The Wolverines pulled Lavigne but couldn’t get a handle on the puck as the Buckeyes took a huge 6-5 victory over their rivals.
Mason Jobst was the first star of the game as the Speedway Indiana native finished he night with 2 goals and 2 assist. The Captain Nick Schilkey received the third star for 2 goals and 1 assist on the night, including the big game winning goal, his 20th of the season.
The Buckeyes are 13-7-6 overall on the season and 4-5-1v in conference play. They will play again Friday and Saturday, February 10th and 11th, when they host the Minnesota Golden Gophers.