Eric Beiersdorfer / Lantern photographer
Northern Michigan came into its game against the Ohio State men’s hockey team Saturday night ranked No. 14 in the country, but for the second-straight game, it was the Buckeyes who played like a team worthy of national recognition.
OSU won 4-1 and completed a two-game sweep of the Wildcats after defeating Northern Michigan by the same score Friday afternoon. Four players scored for OSU in the Saturday contest and senior goalie Cal Heeter had 18 saves to help the team to a series sweep.
The unranked Buckeyes are now unbeaten in their last seven games, and are riding a five-game winning streak during which they have outscored their opponents 20-2.
“Ohio State is a good hockey team. I don’t know if people know how good they are. They were owning the game,” Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle said.
The Buckeyes owned Saturday’s game from the start.
Senior forward Danny Dries put OSU on the board with a goal at 10:54 in the first period. Dries received a pass from senior defenseman Sean Duddy just inside the blue line and fired the puck past Wildcats’ goalie Reid Ellingson.
Freshman forward Nick Oddo scored at 9:08 in the second period, and OSU led 2-0 after 40 minutes. The Buckeyes outshot the Wildcats 31-8 through two stanzas, including a 17-2 advantage in the middle period.
Northern Michigan cut OSU’s lead to one with a goal at 3:12 in the third period.
The Buckeyes went on the power play less than a minute after the goal, and took advantage with a goal from sophomore defenseman Curtis Gedig at 4:14.
OSU was on the power play four times during the game, while the Wildcats only held a player advantage twice.
“At the beginning of the year, we were spending too much time in the box,” Dries said. “We have done a much better job of staying out of the box, especially over the last two weekends.”
Oddo found sophomore forward Alex Lippincott in front of the Wildcats goal, who backhanded the puck into the net, giving OSU a 4-1 lead with just more than 12 minutes remaining in the game.
The Buckeyes responded to Northern Michigan’s lone goal with two of their own in a span of 3:54, putting the game far from in reach for the Wildcats, preserving a win and series sweep.
“When the other team scores, you are going to start second guessing yourselves, but I do not think they did that,” OSU head coach Mark Osiecki said. “It is probably a good thing Northern scored and put us in that position. It let us see how our guys would handle it.”
The win puts OSU in a tie for first place atop the Central Collegiate Hockey Association standings with Notre Dame and Lake Superior. The Buckeyes are now 8-3-1 on the year, 5-2-1-1 in conference play.
“We are taking things day-to-day, and we are not looking at the rankings yet. We are trying to go one day at a time,” Gedig said.
Northern Michigan drops to 4-5-3, 1-4-3-2 in the CCHA with the loss.
The Buckeyes will travel to Ann Arbor, Mich., to face Michigan in a two-game series starting on Friday.