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Special teams doom Buckeyes against Michigan

They say in rivalry games, “You can throw all the numbers out the window.” Red Berenson’s Michigan Wolverines were able to take this mantra into Columbus to earn just their second road victory on the season beating Ohio State 5-3 Friday evening.

Michigan held a 2-0 advantage through two and dominated the Buckeyes. Ohio State tried to rally in the third period, but its rally fell short.

This was a game Ohio State should have won, on paper. The Buckeyes had a six-game home point stream entering Friday’s contest. Michigan on the other hand was 1-8-2 on the road. Michigan had struggled all year, especially between the pipes. Ohio State has had solid goaltending led by Brady Hjelle.

Ohio State’s game to win, right? The Buckeyes are coming into an emotional roller-coaster as Mark Osiecki’s squad is experiencing their parents being in town and senior night. Add in the Michigan/Ohio State rivalry and what you get is a team who is too amped for the game.

“There was a lot of outside influences coming into this week,” Osiecki said. “I think that affected us a bit. We spent a lot of energy and emotion before the game and when we had the opportunity to step on the gas, we didn’t have any gas left in our tank.”

Winnipeg Jets prospect Jacob Trouba had a three-point effort for Michigan and teammate Alex Guptill, a Dallas Stars draftee, scored a pair of goals in a winning effort.

Michigan’s special teams were quite special converting twice on the power play and killing off all six Ohio State power plays. Michigan managed a pair of breakaway opportunities while shorthanded that Hjelle had to turn away. Michigan’s first two goals came on the power play notching the eighth-straight contest the Wolverines have converted on the man-advantage.

“Power play and penalty kill, obviously two areas that was the difference in the game,” Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki said. “Michigan is a (darn) good hockey club, no doubt about it. They have a lot of top end talent on that squad, they have four defenders that will have the opportunity to play a long time in the NHL, and they showed their skill in the first two periods.”

Michigan took a 1-0 lead with 4:38 remaining in the first period as Guptill scored his ninth of the season as he beat Ohio State goalie Brady Hjelle. Guptill disguised himself nicely coming down the slot as Hjelle did not see the puck until it went into the net.

Michigan carried the momentum into the second forcing Osiecki to call his timeout midway through the period after one of his lines got stuck on the ice for over two minutes. The timeout did not work.

After Krogh was called for an interference penalty, Michigan capitalized. The Wolverines took a 2-0 lead after A.J. Treais found freshman Trouba whose one-time attempt beat the glove of Hjelle. Michigan outshot Ohio State 24-20 in the first two periods of the contest.

Ohio State got on the board 57 seconds into the third as Max McCormick’s snap shot from the left circle beat the glove of goaltender Steve Racine.

And then a flurry of scoring took place as the Buckeyes and Wolverines exchanged goals.

The Buckeyes had nine of the third period’s first 10 shots but could not sustain that momentum. Michigan forward Luke Moffatt scored 11:48 into the third as he took a shot off his own rebound and used his stick to push the puck past Hjelle to give Michigan a 3-1 lead.

Ohio State’s Tanner Fritz responded shorthanded on a breakaway with 4:52 left to cut Michigan’s lead to 3-2.  Michigan regained its two-goal edge as Guptill added his 10th of the campaign moments later.

Forward Ryan Dzingel got the Buckeyes within one after Hjelle was pulled for an extra attacker with 75 seconds left but Derek DeBlois notched an empty-netter with 25 seconds later.

“You are not going to get five goals against that team often,” Berenson said. “Maybe we got lucky, the power play connected and one is an empty-net goal, but I am sure both goalies and both coaches think that they had a couple they would have liked to get back.”

Ohio State goes back to the drawing board looking to do a better job on the power play and penalty kill.

“It was lack of execution,” Fritz said. “We didn’t play very well. They outcompeted us the most part on the power play. That’s a big thing for us.”

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