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Michigan hockey struggles against the Buckeyes

Ohio State took five of the six available points in a penalty-filled two game series.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Ugh, what a rock fight of a series between the No. 4 Michigan Wolverines (20-10-2) and the No. 10 Ohio State Buckeyes (18-11-3). Determined to prevent any semblance of an altercation, the referees kept the whistle out all weekend and between the two teams, there were a total of 29 penalties called, completely wiping out any hope for team momentum or an enjoyable viewing experience.

Heavy whistles and frequent stoppages favor Ohio State’s style of play and the Buckeyes massively outshot the Wolverines, 40-17, in the first game. However, despite the shooting discrepancy, the Wolverines were able to jump out to a two-goal lead.

Michigan carried a second period 3-1 advantage after a pair of wristers from the Fantilli brothers (Adam scored first, and then Luca), and a Jackson Hallum highlight reel effort for the third.

Hallum — fresh out of the penalty box — took a pass on the right flank and used his elite speed to attack the net. With a defender draped all over him, Hallum shielded the puck, crossed in front of the net, moved the puck to his traditional left sided forehand and fired home a goal after Ohio State goalie Jakub Dobes sprawled on the ice.

However, Ohio State would cut the lead to 3-2 before the middle period came to a close. In the final frame, Ohio State tied the game within the first five minutes of play and largely controlled the period. Despite continued pressure from the Buckeyes, Michigan hung on and forced OT.

Michigan entered the extra period on the power play, but was unable to capitalize; Ohio State was also awarded an extra frame power play and experienced similar results. The two teams stalemated in the fourth frame and went to a shootout.

Ohio State won the shootout and took home the extra point in the standings. Michigan’s seven-game winning streak came to an end, but losing All-American defenseman Luke Hughes to an injury would be the biggest loss for the Wolverines on the night.


1-Penalty Killers (Michigan killed every Ohio State power play including a stretch of seven straight minutes)

2-Erik Portillo (Stopped 37-of-40 shots; .925 save percentage)

3- Jackson Hallum (one goal)

The second game — outdoors at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland — picked up where the first game ended: frequent whistles, stoppages, as well as added ice maintenance due to the outdoor conditions.

Rhythm and flow had long been forgotten for this series, but now the ice conditions were going to add more interruptions to make the game feel completely disjointed. Just past the halfway point in the second period, play was stopped for nearly 10 minutes due to a breakage in the ice.

A few minutes later, the second intermission began early with another breakage in the ice with 4:59 remaining. In between ice breakage stoppages, the Buckeyes struck first on a two-on-one rush, and took a 1-0 lead into the early second intermission.

When the second period resumed, the offense for both teams finally got rolling. The Buckeyes’ power play and penalty-kill units chipped in goals and sandwiched Gavin Brindley’s rocket to cap off a three-goal second period.

The final frame saw the teams continue to alternate goals, with Ohio State taking the second contest, 4-2. The Buckeyes have pulled even in the standings with the Wolverines with one series remaining for each team.

As important as Big Ten Tournament seeding is, the Wolverines are more concerned about the future health of their two starting blue liners Jacob Truscott — who hasn’t played the last two series — and now Hughes.

One regular season series with Notre Dame remains between Michigan, the Big Ten Tournament, and eventually the NCAA Tournament.


1-Gavin Brindley (one goal)

2-Eric Ciccolini (one goal)

3- Frank Nazar III (one assist)