Michigan falls to Ohio State in the Faceoff on the Lake, 4-2

1 month ago The Michigan Daily

CLEVELAND — As a scarlet-and-maize mob filled the stands of FirstEnergy Stadium, fireworks rocketed into the crisp February air, signaling the start of the Faceoff on the Lake. 

But once the contest began, the offensive fireworks took a bit longer to go off. 

After a quiet first 35 minutes characterized by strong goaltending, the No. 10 Ohio State hockey team exploded late in the second period. Scoring three goals in six minutes, the Buckeyes (18-11-3 overall, 11-9-2 Big Ten) took control of the game to defeat No. 4 Michigan (20-10-2, 12-9-1), 4-2, capturing the Faceoff on the Lake crown.

Opening the game with six combined power plays in the first period alone, both teams got their chances to score early. But even as Ohio State hemmed the Wolverines in their own end for six full minutes, junior goaltender Erik Portillo prevented a slew of high-danger chances from finding the mesh.

Coming out of the first break, the Wolverines finally managed to make it out of their own defensive zone — still without creating much tangible success, though. Instead, it was Ohio State goaltender Jakub Dobeš’ turn to keep the game scoreless as he turned away every Michigan chance. 

And when an errant pass gave the Buckeyes a 2-on-1 breakaway with six minutes left in the second period, even Portillo’s best efforts were no match for forward Cole McWard’s wide-open wrister.

Within 40 seconds, though, the two sides headed to the locker room for an early second intermission as ice crews dealt with divots in the sheet. 

And finally, as fireworks flew through the air once again to signal the game resuming, both teams suddenly found their firepower. 

With 2:49 left in the second period, Ohio State forward Jake Wise quickly capitalized on sophomore forward Mackie Samoskevich’s cross-checking penalty to put the Buckeyes up 2-0. Then, freshman forward Gavin Brindley rifled a wrister into the net a minute later to cut the lead back to one. 

Down one once again and on the power play within 30 seconds of Brindley’s goal, the momentum turned momentarily in the Wolverines’ direction. But instead, Ohio State defenseman Tyler Duke crashed the net on a shorthanded breakaway, cleaning up Wise’s rebound for a goal to halt Michigan’s momentum. And even when senior forward Eric Ciccolini potted a rebound of his own to slim the deficit, the Wolverines failed to keep the momentum flowing once again.

Within 20 seconds of Ciccolini’s goal, senior forward Nolan Moyle took an interference penalty, putting Michigan on the kill once again. And halfway into the ensuing power play, Buckeye forward Stephen Halliday’s shot tipped off sophomore defenseman Ethan Edwards’ stick and into the net — marking the final nail in the Wolverines’coffin. 

After failing to capitalize on a seventh-straight power play chance, Michigan never put itself in position to tie the game in the final 10 minutes — completing Ohio State’s series sweep. 

Because for 35 minutes, the Wolverines held off the Buckeyes’ fireworks show. But once it started, they couldn’t do anything to stop it.

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