COLUMBUS — For 50 minutes and 21 seconds, the Michigan hockey team maintained a one-goal lead over No. 11 Ohio State.

While the Buckeye fans in the stadium itched for a goal, any goal, to tie up the game, the clock began to run down. Minute after minute ticked by, and even when it seemed like there was a possibility for Ohio State to score, it didn’t. The Wolverines’ lone goal would remain alone on the scoreboard for the entire game. 

Michigan (3-11-2-2 Big Ten, 10-17-3 overall) faced the Buckeyes (8-7-1-1, 17-9-6) in the second matchup of a two-game series Saturday at Value City Arena. After dropping the first game Friday, 4-2, the Wolverines rallied for a 1-0 win. It marked just Michigan’s third Big Ten win of the season.

But for freshman forward Nick Pastujov, it marked the first goal of his collegiate career. The goal came off a shot from junior forward Niko Porikos, and Pastujov deflected it into the net. It gave Michigan a one-goal lead around halfway into the first period, exactly like Friday’s game.

But unlike Friday — when the Wolverines gave up a Buckeye goal with just a single second left in the period — they fared better Saturday. This time, Michigan went into the second period leading by one.

“It felt good for it to finally be in a real game that I could score in,” Pastujov said. “It’s one of those things that you tip it on net and you hope it goes in and it actually does. Tonight it just happened to be the difference-maker, so that was awesome.”

For the next 50 minutes and 21 seconds, the Wolverines held on to that lead. Senior goaltender Zach Nagelvoort made 42 saves, safeguarding Michigan’s lone goal on the scoreboard. When Ohio State forward Kevin Miller — who scored two of the Buckeyes’ four goals Friday — brought the puck close to the net and shot it near the end of the second period, Nagelvoort stretched his leg out just far enough to kick the puck away.

“I thought he really looked solid right from the first shot, and that gives your team confidence, too,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “Let’s face it, our confidence was fragile after last night’s game. Not because of our goalie, but just because of our team. And so when your goalie — and he’s a senior — shows that he’s ready, that’s contagious. So I think that helped everybody.”

A lack of penalties helped the Wolverines maintain their lead as well. It wasn’t until there was 5:48 left in the second period that the first penalty of the game was called. Buckeye forward Christian Lampasso was penalized for interference, and Michigan had a chance to capitalize on a power-play opportunity.

But that chance was wasted, and soon after the power play was exhausted, junior forward Tony Calderone was called for tripping. It was the Wolverines’ first penalty of the night, and it came with less than two minutes remaining in the second period. At the same time the night before, Michigan had recorded four.

But where Ohio State had once dominated the Wolverines, scoring seven power-play goals in their last series, they werent able to capitalize and both teams entered the third period the same way they had the second — with Michigan clinging to a one-goal lead.

With two minutes left on the clock, the Buckeyes pulled goaltender Christian Frey for a sixth attacker on the ice. But it wasn’t enough, and the Wolverines would end up splitting the series with a 1-0 win.

Michigan’s away schedule has come to a close on a positive note, and the Wolverines will return to Yost Ice Arena for the next two weeks to face No. 4 Minnesota and No. 11 Penn State, respectively. It will be a tough schedule to close out with, but recording a win against the Buckeyes might have been exactly what Michigan needed. 

“We don’t have enough dynamite to get this team to understand how desperate they have to play,” Berenson said. “We know we’re not that good. Maybe we didn’t know that two months ago, but I think we figured it out now. We’re just not going to overpower a team or out-finesse a team or outscore them if we just play up-and-down hockey. We’ve got to play better defensively, and I think our team learned that, and we’ll see if we can keep that in the mix next week.”

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