I would like to begin this post with some meaningful lines about this new age of Big Ten hockey and the gloriousness of rivalries.
I would like to, but I can’t. This series destroyed my words. Two late game comebacks, two very narrow losses to No. 3 Michigan, I’ve only recently regained the ability to speak in complete sentences.
I hope you got to witness it, either in person or on television. No highlight package does it justice, but here’s a look at the goals from Friday’s contest courtesy of BTN.
Going into that game there was some question about whether Ohio State could compete with a highly ranked team like Michigan. Some thought their cupcake schedule had simply made the Buckeyes look good. Others believed they could skate with the top teams, but hadn’t been able to see any proof of that yet. I don’t think there’s any question this morning about whether the Buckeyes will be a dangerous team in the second half, regardless of their opponents’ national standing. Let’s take a look at the ups and downs the Buckeyes had against the Wolverines.
What Went Right
Ryan Dzingel is amazeballs (or whatever term you prefer for "ridiculously talented and hard-working as heck"). He was great all weekend long, at both ends of the ice. He scored the Buckeyes’ opening goal in each game, drew penalties, drew Michigan’s defense away from his teammates, and blocked a shot that briefly sent him to the dressing room and stopped the collective heart of Buckeye fans. (Naturally he generated a scoring chance immediately upon his return to the ice.) He finished the series with two goals and two assists and if he isn’t one of the Big Ten’s stars of the week the system is all kinds of jacked up.
The ATM line is only slightly less amazeballs. McCormick, Tanner Fritz, and Alex Szczechura combined for three goals and nine assists this weekend. At least one of the three was instrumental in every single one of the Buckeyes’ seven goals. Fritz had some of his prettiest assists of the season in this series, including carrying the puck the length of the ice to set up Dave Gust last night.
The Buckeyes got some quality gritty, blue-collar shifts in both games from guys like Tyler Lundey, Matt Johnson, Darik Angeli, Anthony Greco, Travis Statchuk, Dave Gust, etc. It’s no surprise that Greco and Gust had goals in the Buckeyes’ comebacks.
A massive display of guts, character, heart, resiliency, whatever you want to call that intangible quality that means you can never, ever count a team out of a game. It didn’t win them any points this time but “it” is going to be huge when Ohio State resumes conference play.
"Our kids emptied the tank, we played hard and there were some chances on both sides… We just came out on the short end. You always have to learn from things and we're going to learn from this and get better." - Steve Rohlik
What Went…Well, Meh.
Logan Davis had some incredible saves in the series, particularly in the middle stages of Friday’s game. When Michigan’s Evan Allen was awarded a penalty shot on Friday night I think it’s safe to say fans were holding their breath to see how he’d fare without the assistance of the Buckeye D. He stopped that shot and 33 others on Friday. (34 others? Do penalty shots count as regular shots?) But he also allowed a couple of goals in the series on which he’d probably like to have a do-over.
The Buckeyes’ special teams were pretty darned good against the Wolverines, 4-9 on the power play and the kill was 8-9. The only thing that stops this from being a “what went right” is the fact that twice on Monday Ohio State had a power play and negated their advantage by taking a penalty of their own. On both occasions, with the teams then evened up, Michigan scored.
Ohio State came out strong in both games, but they weren’t able to draw first blood either night. They controlled much of the play in the first 15 minutes of last night’s game, but didn’t seem to be able to generate many quality chances. Most of their shots seemed to be of the one-and-done variety and their lone power play opportunity was a little chaotic.
Maybe it helped that I’d just watched ESPNU’s train wreck of a Wisconsin-Minnesota broadcast, but I thought BTN actually did a decent job of covering Friday’s game. And then I heard them say “He has small man’s hands,” in one of the highlight videos.
What Went Wrong
Six points to Michigan. The series provided plenty of reasons for fans to feel good about where the Buckeyes are heading into the second half of the season, but ultimately the standings still read Ohio State: 0-2-0-0. This particularly burns since the Bucks had both games tied up late and just weren’t able to grab a victory.
“The best team does not always win. We got lucky they didn’t score that winning goal. It’s as simple as that.” - Red Berenson
The men's team is off until after Christmas, but if you're craving some college hockey this weekend you can head out the the OSU Ice RInk where the ladies will be hosting No. 1 Minnesota.
Short Shifts and MS Paint art will be back on Friday (hooray weekday game), but here are a few more links from this series…
- Recap Round Up: Ohio State (FRI and MON), Jeff Svoboda for Scout.com (FRI), Chris Dilks for SBN College Hockey (FRI), J. Justin Boggs for USCHO (MON), Daniel Fyffe for The Lantern (MON), and from The Michigan Daily's Erin Lennon (FRI), Greg Garno (MON), and Alejandro Zuniga (FRI and MON).
- In addition to the embedded video above, BTN has highlights plus and interview with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany here.
- Rachel Lewis photographed Monday's game. Check out her Inside Hockey gallery here, including a shot of "Hulk Logan."
- MGoBlog user MGoBlueline breaks down each goal from Friday's game here.
- The Buckeye ladies swept New Hampshire over the weekend. OSU has recaps here and here and you can see highlights via UNH's YouTube account here and here.