Special teams, emotions, swing Michigan's pendulum
Right after Mason Jobst’s double-overtime game-winner sailed past Strauss Mann into the back of the Michigan net, the freshman goaltender knew that he could’ve recognized sooner that the Ohio State forward was going to glide out of the penalty box.
“I have to take responsibility for not slamming my stick and trying to get our D’s attention,” Mann said. “I wasn’t really expecting it honestly.”
All it would’ve taken was a few knocks on the ice with his stick when the penalty clock was running down, and one of the Wolverines’ defenders would’ve gotten into position. At the same time, though, that responsibility doesn’t entirely fall on Mann — any of the other three skaters could have noted the impending situation with the sixth-ranked Buckeyes’ leading points man, but none of them did.
“I know the other guys feel responsibility there too, but we just gotta know the clock,” said freshman defenseman Nick Blankenburg, who was also on the ice. “And we shouldn’t let 26 have a breakaway in overtime like that in three-on-three, because he’s debatably one of their best players, so we have to be better on that part.”
Playing smart — as Michigan coach Mel Pearson noted Saturday night and after Tuesday’s penalty-ridden loss to Notre Dame — is something, even this late in the year that the Wolverines need to do more consistently. In Friday's win, Michigan committed just four penalties and killed every single one — allowing a total of five shots in that span.
And just one second after its own power play ended, up 3-2 on Ohio State, freshman defenseman Jack Summers took advantage with a game-sealing slapshot.
“You have to play smarter,” Pearson said. “And the power play, when we get the opportunity in our game we have to do that. We did that last night and we didn't tonight.”
Michigan was in prime position to take a 4-on-3 advantage headed into the second overtime of Saturday after Jobst’s tripping penalty, but junior forward Will Lockwood responded with his own tripping penalty and a de-facto ejection two seconds into the second extra frame.
Though the Buckeyes were the more penalized team for the weekend and had two players thrown out of Saturday’s game, the Wolverines couldn’t capitalize on any of their power plays after their first goal.
“We can’t get too high when we score a goal or if Ohio State gets a five-minute (penalty), we can’t get too excited or get too angry,” Blankenburg said. “We’ve just got to stay at an even-level and just be calm.
“I feel like when we get running around or things start to not go our way or we just kind of get a little out of it a bit, then you can kind of tell as a fan or a spectator when we start running around a bit or not sticking to our game.”
Lockwood’s penalty, if anything, wasn’t the back-breaker. Neither was not recognizing Jobst’s odd-man rush out of the penalty box.
Each mistake, be it an emotional one, a tactical one or a special team one, built up to those lost points Saturday.