Late-game magic didn’t work a second straight game for Ohio State despite its best efforts and Michigan escaped from Value City Arena with a 2-1 victory Saturday and a split of the meaty two-game series.
After the Buckeyes tied the score at 2 Friday with 11 seconds left on a power-play goal with the goalie pulled, they won it overtime.
Saturday, Michigan got the go-ahead goal in the third period as it did the night before and once again was called for an infraction with less than a minute to go as the Buckeyes buzzed the net after lifting goalie Cal Heeter for an extra attacker.
The Buckeyes had trouble organizing an attack in the scrambly final seconds but did manage to draw another penalty with just four seconds left.
Despite the rare 6-on-3 advantage there just wasn’t enough time to make a serious threat against the No. 11 Wolverines (9-5-4, 8-3-1 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association).
“After what happened (Friday) you don’t want a repeat,” longtime Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “I’ve been in this rink too many times when it’s happened to each team.
“It’s amazing how each team, if you look back at the series, how many last-minute scenarios have gone one way or the other way. At least tonight it went our way.”
Freshman Alex Szczechura, who had the overtime winner Friday, put OSU (6-8-1, 3-6-1-1) up at 12:32 of the second on a soft goal by Wolverines netminder Bryan Hogan.
Szczechura fired from the right circle and the shot somehow eluded Hogan.
“He can stop that goal 99 percent of the time in practice,” Berenson said.
Senior Peter Boyd assisted for his 100thcareer point.
“It’s definitely an honor,” he said. “It’s bittersweet. I wish we had a win to go with it.”
Heeter allowed an even softer goal to Luke Glendening at 6:02 of the third to tie the game for the Wolverines. Heeter was brilliant to that point with 37 saves but he couldn’t corral the shot from the right wall.
“We needed a break and we got it,” Berenson said. “That goal was a big goal. Every goal is big when you get 40 shots and only score twice.”
Osiecki said it was as fluky a goal as they come.
“I’ve never seen a bounce like that and all of a sudden it’s in the back of the net. Certainly you’re going to have some momentum changing there.”
Berenson agreed, “We didn’t like the goal they scored. They won’t like the goal we scored.”
The score shifted momentum and Michigan took advantage at 14:46 when David Wohlberg scored on a wraparound after a faceoff win.
“That’s a goal he’d probably like to have back,” Osiecki said of Heeter, who had 46 saves.
While Ohio State played well it will rue two plays that could have tilted Saturday’s game in its favor.
The first came after going up 1-0. Danny Dries had a goal disallowed with 5 minutes left in the middle period because a Buckeye, possibly Boyd, was deemed to be in the crease. The play was reviewed but the officials never gave an explanation as to why the score did not count.
“They obviously saw something we didn’t,” Boyd said. “They did the best to their ability. It definitely changes the outcome.”
Play No. 2 came late in the game while the Buckeyes were short-handed. Sergio Somma, who had the goal Friday to send the game into OT, broke down the left side and found Corey Toy alone in front but the low-scoring defenseman (five goals in 118 career games) was denied by Hogan.
“We did a lot of good things. I told the guys don’t hang their heads,” Osiecki said. “That’s four games (in a row) where we’ve played very well. It shows at times we have to play a solid, I don’t want to say perfect, but a game with not very many mistakes because goals don’t come easy for us.”
Ohio State plays at Bowling Green Dec. 10-11 in its last games before the holiday break.