Conventional wisdom would say an Ohio State hockey team dressing 10 freshmen would struggle in the suffocating environment that Yost Ice Arena can be.
But first-year player Darik Angeli wasn’t intimidated heading into the imposing home of the Michigan Wolverines and their 6,637 fans packed into the old barn.
“It was a dream come true (to play here),” he said.
It certainly was. Angeli scored both OSU goals, including the third-period game winner, as No. 14 Ohio State upset the No. 7 Wolverines in Ann Arbor on Friday night by a 2-1 score.
“It feels awesome,” he said.
The win extended the Buckeyes’ winning streak to six games and their unbeaten run to eight. Ohio State moved to 9-3-1 overall and stayed atop the Central Collegiate Hockey Association with a 6-2-1-1 record in the league.
It was also Ohio State’s first win in Yost since the 2007-08 season.
“It’s great,” said senior co-captain Sean Duddy, an Ann Arbor native. “I played here four times before this and I hadn’t won yet. To win in a place like this, even if I wasn’t from here, is huge. In the CCHA, going on the road is tough. They’re a pretty good team. It feels good.”
In earning the win, Ohio State’s defense – which entered sixth in the country scoring and had allowed only two goals in the previous five games – shut down Michigan’s fourth-ranked offense, but head coach Mark Osiecki said there was still plenty of room for improvement.
“We were just OK,” Osiecki said. “I don’t think we played very well, to be honest with you. I thought Michigan played very well and their transition is outstanding.”
However, the speedy Wolverines (7-4-2, 3-4-2-1) were unable to the impartial eye to get their transition truly going as Ohio State outshot the home team by a 33-30 margin and keeping them to an 0-for-4 mark on the power play.
“I thought our first couple of shifts we were pretty good, but then the game kind of settled into a not-much-going-on game and we can't play in that kind of a game,” Michigan head coach Red Berenson said.
Angeli’s winner came at the 7:53 mark of the third. It was an innocent looking play, as the freshman completed a quick transition move by finding the puck in the right corner and throwing it on net, but it went off the paraphernalia of goaltender Shawn Hunwick and into the net.
“Coach just said to get it to the net and that’s what the forwards were doing, just trying to put the puck on the net on that kid,” Angeli said. “Luckily it went in.”
Ohio State’s defense wasn’t airtight in holding the Wolverines scoreless in the third, but it did its part. The Buckeyes got lucky early in the frame as Greg Pateryn’s power-play shot hit the post behind Cal Heeter and then the OSU goalie made a quick lateral move to deny Phil Di Giuseppe’s rebound try.
Later with the Buckeyes holding the lead, Di Giuseppe’s power-play swipe went wide off a faceoff and OSU was able to weather the rest of the storm.
The third period was a little more open than the cautious first, as neither team seemed to play its game early. The Buckeyes had good chances off turnovers but Michigan had better pressure and then got the opening goal at 15:26. The Wolverines’ best chance in transition ended up in the net as Chris Brown left a drop pass for Mac Bennett, who beat Heeter from the left circle.
But that goal only seemed to get the Buckeyes going, as Hunwick made a great rebound stop on Chris Crane before Angeli got his first goal. Just 2:16 after Bennett’s goal, OSU senior Danny Dries got the puck to Ben Gallacher at the right point, and the rebound of his shot was slid in by Angeli.
“We’re not going to get frustrated with that goal,” Angeli said. “We’re just going to come back, play our game and luckily our team got the puck and Driesy made a hell of a play to Gally, and he took the shot and I was there to put it in.”
The second period was scoreless but had plenty of talking points. Alex Szczechura deflected a shot onto the post for OSU before freshman Tanner Fritz took a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting from behind.
But the Ohio State penalty kill held strong, holding Michigan to only three shots – one of which drew a great save by Heeter on Brown from the slot – before the Wolverines took a penalty to end the power play.
“They said it right on the bench right away, we talk about the five-minute major, they said, ‘This is a challenge for us. It’s not something that’s going to hurt us,’ ” Osiecki said. “That was their approach to it. They wanted to use that as momentum.”
Notes: Ohio State moved to 4-1 vs. ranked teams. … Heeter made 29 saves while Hunwick had 31. … OSU’s power play was 0 for 5. … Freshman forward Max McCormick returned for Ohio State after missing four series with an undisclosed injury.