COLUMBUS, Ohio — With a road series in the CCHA Tournament a near-certainty for the Michigan hockey team, it urgently needed to show it could win away from Yost, having won just one true away game this season entering the weekend.
That’s exactly what the Wolverines did on Friday night at the Schottenstein Center as they opened the series against the Buckeyes with a 5-3 win.
“You are not going to get five goals against that team very often,” coach Red Berenson said after the game. “Maybe we got lucky, one was an empty-net goal. I am sure both goalies and both coaches think that there is a couple that they would like to get back.”
The Wolverines went two-for-four on the power play, while holding the Buckeyes scoreless on their six man-advantage opportunities.
Alex Guptill scored twice, while Jacob Trouba, Luke Mofatt and Derek DeBlois also picked up goals for the Wolverines in the road victory.
In the first period, Michigan (11-18-2 CCHA, 8-15-2-2 overall) set the tone for a dominant night on special teams.
While shorthanded early, sophomore forward Travis Lynch was stoned by Ohio State goalie Brady Hjelle on a breakaway. But the power-play unit finally did give the Wolverines a 1-0 advantage as the sophomore Guptill continued his run of dominance over the Buckeyes with a goal on the man advantage. After receiving a pass from freshman forward and Ann Arbor native Andrew Copp, Guptill fired a backhand from the slot past Hjelle for the initial tally.
Hjelle entered the game with a fantastic 1.79 goals-against average but just an 11-9-6 record to show for it.
The second period was when Michigan really began to dominate however, as a vast majority of the 20 minutes were played in the Ohio State (13-13-7 CCHA, 12-8-5-1 overall) zone.
After the Wolverines’ penalty kill improved to 4-for-4 on the night after senior forward Lindsay Sparks’ slashing penalty was killed off, the power play fed off the momentum.
First, freshman defenseman and United States National Team Development Program alumnus Jacob Trouba rifled a shot from the point off the post. When senior captain A.J. Treais fed him the puck at the blue line once again, he made sure he found the back of the net, giving the Wolverines a 2-0 lead that appeared quite comfortable. The assist was Treais’ second of the night after receiving a secondary helper on Guptill’s tally.
“I think getting up was big in this game, because I think in the past we have kind of got down after we have given up goals,” Trouba said. “To bounce back after giving up goals today was pretty big for us and just kind of staying up and playing as a team the whole time.”
But in the third period, Ohio State would get one back as sophomore forward Max McCormick sniped from the left circle to beat Michigan freshman goalie Steve Racine, who started his first game since Dec. 14 against Western Michigan.
The Wolverines would regain the two-goal advantage with just over eight minutes to play in the game as freshman forward Boo Nieves launched a shot on goal and junior forward Luke Moffatt tapped in the rebound for his fifth goal of the season. After a very brief review, the goal stood and Michigan had regained control of the game.
Ohio State again closed the lead to one on a shorthanded breakaway goal sophomore forward Tanner Fritz after a defensive-zone turnover by Michigan with 4:52 to play.
But the eventual game-winning goal came from the Wolverines with 2:33 left when Guptill scored his second of the night. Junior forward Derek DeBlois notched a beautiful pass to set up the one-timer.
With the empty net, Ohio State pulled to within one with 1:15 left. Ryan Dzingel found a rebound in the crease to make it a 4-3 game. But DeBlois’ empty netter with 50 seconds left effectively ended it as Michigan hung on.