Ohio State battled back from a two goal deficit to tie Michigan at the end of two, but Tim Miller’s fluky goal at 13:38 in the third gave the Wolverines the single score they needed to defeat the Buckeyes, 4-3, in UM’s hotly contested CCHA home opener.
“Ohio State outplayed us for two periods, and we were fortunate tonight,” said Michigan head coach Red Berenson. “Billy Sauer was the difference at that point. Shots were 29-17, and I’d say the chances were definitely proportionately like that.
“We just felt we played too much in our zone, turned the puck over — and they played well. They attacked us and were the better team.”
Sauer made 34 saves as OSU outshot UM 37-24, earning his second win of the season and rebounding against a tough loss to Boston University last Saturday. Louie Caporusso led the Wolverines in scoring with a goal and two assists, including the second helper on the game winner.
“We’re trying,” said Berenson. “Everyone’s trying to try, but we definitely were not in sync. Whether it was the execution, the effort, the second effort — and this is second-effort hockey, and if you have one or two players who are not giving a second effort or they’re not sure or whatever, then it shows.”
Caporusso’s power-play marker, his sixth goal of the season, gave the Wolverines the 1-0 lead after the first. With pressure in front of the Buckeye net, the puck came to Tim Miller who had a nearly open net in the slot. Miller couldn’t get a stick on the puck to shoot, but did manage to send it right, to where Caporusso was waiting to pop it in past OSU goaltender Dustin Carlson.
All three Buckeye goals came in the second and the middle of the stanza saw the teams exchange four goals — two each — within a four-minute span.
Brandon Naurato netted his first of the season for Michigan and put the Wolverines up 2-0 at 8:48, taking a feed from Caporusso, who stole the puck in the neutral zone.
The Buckeyes cut that lead in half at 9:54 when Todd Rudasill scored his first of the night on the power play, lifting the puck up and over Sauer on a cross-crease pass from John Albert.
Less than a minute later, Aaron Palushaj restored Michigan’s two goal lead, single-handedly, when he stole the puck from behind the OSU net for an unassisted wrap-around goal at 10:34.
But at 12:48, Rudasill registered his second of the night just after a successful Buckeye penalty kill, a goal that saw too few Wolverines on the ice during the change and one that gave Rudasill all the time he needed to score. After Ian Boots sent the puck from the right post, Rudasill bided his time and waited for Sauer to commit low before sending the puck up to make it a 3-2 game.
At 17:52, Mathieu Picard tied it up for the Bucks, the end result of an extended period of puck control for Ohio State in the Wolverine end.
“One bad pass, and all of a sudden the other team’s attacking, or one missed pass and the other team’s attacking,” said Berenson. “I didn’t think we took care of the puck tonight and we didn’t compete hard enough.”
Even though the game may have looked lopsided in the first two periods, OSU head coach John Markell said, “It was still 3-3.” Markell said that penalty trouble caught up to the Buckeyes, who were down a man after losing Peter Boyd to a game misconduct in the first period and who found themselves in penalty trouble in the third.
“We got ourselves down again and we came out and we had a feeling that we were going to get nailed with some penalties and we did,” said Markell, “but I thought we were going to get opportunities too, and we didn’t get them. I thought if we could get a power play, we could keep working.”
Miller’s goal — a deflected shot that appeared at first to have gone in after hitting Carlson rather than Miller’s stick — came at 13:38 in the third, minutes after OSU killed off two consecutive penalties.
“In the third period, I thought we played better,” said Berenson. “We were lucky to score, but I thought we had a better period.”
“We put a good effort in,” said Markell. “We made some mistakes. Michigan’s a good enough team that they put their opportunities away.
“We took too many penalties tonight. Let’s face it. We did a good job killing them, but it killed us. We can’t give them that kind of momentum. We’re going to have to play a little bit smarter game.”
Both teams went 1-for-5 on the power play, and Carlson made 20 saves in his second loss of the season.
Michigan (5-2-0, 2-1-0-0 CCHA) and Ohio State (2-4-1, 1-3-1-1 CCHA) will play their second of four contests tomorrow night in Yost Ice Arena. The puck drops at 7:35 p.m.