ANN ARBOR, Mich. — An ugly game in a hostile environment was not enough to keep the Ohio State men’s hockey team from notching a meaningful two points against their archrivals Friday.
“Good teams find a way to get points and we’ve been talking about getting points,” OSU coach Steve Rohlik said after he team secured a 1-0 shootout victory to earn an extra point against Michigan. “We’re on the road, in this building, in this atmosphere, it was fun. For us to get points, it was big.”
In the first game of a two-city weekend series between the No. 21 Buckeyes and No. 14 Michigan that started in Ann Arbor, the Buckeyes secured a shootout win.
Up 2-1 in the final period, the Buckeyes surrendered a game-tying goal to Michigan junior forward Alex Guptill that sent things into overtime.
After a scoreless overtime period, OSU senior forward Alex Szczechura slipped a shot past Michigan freshman goaltender Zach Nagelvoort for the game-winner.
After the game, Rohlik said that even though he was disappointed in the way his team responded after almost two weeks off the ice, he was proud of his team for fighting to the finish.
“We actually had a good week of practice, I thought we’d be sharper,” Rohlik said. “We could never get over the hump, but to have the lead with five minutes left go, you gotta find a way to win. We held on and got it done in the shootout.”
On the contrary, Michigan coach Red Berenson saw his team improve throughout the game, but was ultimately disappointed they couldn’t secure the win down the stretch.
“We had a good third period and coulda-woulda-shoulda maybe won the game in regulation or in overtime,” Berenson said. “Its a tough loss at home. Even though its a tie — you get one point out of it — it’s not good enough for a home game at this time of year against this team. It’s disappointing to give that up.”
For the majority of the game, it appeared as if the Wolverines had a numerical advantage on the ice, thanks to their six power play opportunities on the evening. During each of those six occasions, however, the Buckeyes did not allow a single power play goal despite the multiple disadvantages.
“I said before the game, whoever wins the special teams is probably going to win the game,” Rohlik said. “Any time you keep them off the board on the power play, it’s key.”
The success of the Buckeyes against the power play was thanks in large part to the effort of freshman goalie Matt Tomkins, who saved 35 shots in the game.
While not the normal net-minder for the Buckeyes as of late, Rohlik said Tomkins was rewarded with the start due to his efforts on the ice in practice.
“I give him a lot of credit,” Rohlik said. “Matty was waiting in the wings and he deserved an opportunity, I’m really happy for him.”
Another Buckeye who had a special night was freshman forward Nick Schilkey, who put his 10th goal of the season into the net just five minutes into the action.
Schilkey, who hails from Marysville, Michigan, was proud to have scored such a big goal in front of his family in his home state.
“I had some family in the stands and its nice in any game to get a goal like that is big,” Schilkey said. “Especially here in the home state, its fun.”
Currently trailing Michigan by just two points in the Big Ten standings, the Buckeyes are set to return to Columbus to face the Wolverines again Sunday at Nationwide Arena.
Game time is scheduled for 1 p.m.