If an opposing team gives the Michigan hockey team’s offense opportunities to score, chances are the Wolverines will make them pay.
And that’s exactly what Michigan did Sunday evening.
With just 52 seconds gone in the third period and the Wolverines on a two-man advantage and down by two goals, freshman forward Kyle Connor received a cross-ice pass from junior forward Tyler Motte and buried the puck past Ohio State goaltender Matt Tomkins.
Just 50 seconds later, Motte was on the receiving end of a big rebound from Tomkins and slid it under the netminder to even the game.
Less than two minutes after that, Motte scored again for his third goal of the game, and the Wolverines didn’t look back, cruising to an 8-6 win Sunday at Yost Ice Arena that saw 84 penalty minutes handed out after the final buzzer sounded.
As soon as the game ended, a brawl broke out in front of Michigan goaltender Steve Racine that saw sophomore defenseman Cutler Martin sucker punch Ohio State forward Brendon Kearney.
Martin was handed a disqualification, which means he will be suspended at least one game.
Sophomore forward Dexter Dancs was also given a disqualification while junior forward Alex Kile was given a game misconduct for leaving the bench.
The brawl ended what was an exciting game from start to finish.
Unlike Friday’s game, when Michigan went down 3-0 before mounting a comeback, the Wolverines came out of the gate strong.
It paid off just 1:45 into the game, when sophomore forward Tony Calderone found freshman forward Brendan Warren all alone in the slot. Warren took Calderone’s pass and one-timed the puck past Tomkins for his fifth goal of the year.
“It was good to see Brendan Warren score a goal tonight,” Berenson said.
Ohio State tied the game up when Buckeye forward Dakota Joshua grabbed his own rebound and put the puck past senior goaltender Steve Racine.
But as they have done all season, the Wolverines answered quickly.
Just 36 seconds after the Buckeyes’ equalizer, freshman forward Kyle Connor found junior forward Tyler Motte on an odd-man rush. Motte’s first attempt was saved, but Tomkins could not deny Motte and he roofed it over the netminder’s left shoulder.
Ohio State responded, though, winning another scrum in front of Racine. This time, Racine was on his back without his stick as trailing Buckeye forward Tyler Lundey chipped the puck over the sprawling netminder to knot the game at two going into the first intermission.
But as well as Michigan came out in the first period, Ohio State came out even faster in the second.
Just three seconds after the puck was dropped to start the beginning of the second period, senior forward Justin Selman went to the penalty box for high sticking and the Buckeyes capitalized.
After some nice passing down low, Ohio State forward Matthew Weis found David Gust across the crease, where Gust tapped home his sixth goal of the year.
But it didn’t stop there for the Buckeyes. Two minutes later, Ohio State defenseman Sasha Larocque found himself wide open in the slot and buried a shot past Racine.
Michigan got a goal back when Connor collected his own rebound, rounded the net and beat Tomkins glove side, but the Buckeyes answered with another power-play goal from forward Mason Jobst to restore the two-goal lead.
“(Ohio State) skated well,” Berenson said. “I thought they played really well. They attacked well with the puck. They’re a good hockey team, and they’re a fast hockey team. They had us on our heels for half of the game.”
After the Wolverines’ scoring spree to start the third period, sophomore forward Dexter Dancs added his fifth goal of the year and Compher scored on an empty net, while Ohio State forward Kevin Miller tacked one on late to round out the scoring.
While Racine allowed six goals, he stopped 43 Buckeye shots to earn his eighth win of the season.
The first line of Compher, Connor and Motte finished with a combined 12 points and accounted for six of Michigan’s eight goals. Motte and Connor are now tied for the NCAA lead for goals with 18.
“They’re playing the right way,” Berenson said. “They’ve got confidence, they’ve got chemistry, and they’re leading our team.”
Earlier this year, Compher said Michigan didn’t want to be known as the “comeback kids.” But the Wolverines’ inconsistent play has forced them to be just that.
And somehow, they’re getting by quite well.
“It’s old time hockey,” Berenson said. “We’re trying to play better defensively, but that’s what you get tonight. They had too many shots, too many chances. We had 40 shots against after two periods tonight. That’s unacceptable, but that’s the way the game is played.
“If it snows out, you have to deal with it.”