CLEVELAND — David Wohlberg heard a voice.
The senior forward, who had just collected the puck along the boards, couldn’t see the voice, but he heard it. Perhaps if the game were at Yost — if the game hadn’t been outdoors, if the stadium had a roof — he wouldn’t have heard the voice. But he did, and he slid the puck in its direction.
It worked. The voice, belonging to sophomore forward Derek DeBlois, took Wohlberg’s centering pass and one-timed it past Ohio State goalie Cal Heeter.
Less than 30 seconds later, Wohlberg scored, too.
Immediately after that, he heard more voices, this time belonging to the thousands of chilly Michigan fans who made the trip to Cleveland to witness a 4-1 Michigan victory in the Frozen Diamond Faceoff.
It took just 30 seconds in the second period for Michigan to put the finishing touches on its sweep of Ohio State and move from a tie for sixth place in the CCHA to third.
“You saw after they scored their first goal, it was a big uprising for them,” said Wohlberg of Ohio State’s second-period goal that cut Michigan’s lead to one. “Then when we go out and we score two real quick, it’s a big push for us, and I think it emptied their spirits.”
The impact from Michigan’s two-goal flurry weighed visibly on the Buckeyes. They hardly threatened Michigan fifth-year senior goalie Shawn Hunwick in the remaining 30 minutes of the game, and when they walked into the locker room for the second intermission, their body language spoke volumes.
After the game, Chris Crane’s red, puffy eyes said it all. The Buckeye sophomore forward, and the rest of the Ohio State hockey team, wanted this one badly.
Despite a two-goal deficit after the opening period, the game was there for the taking after Crane’s goal came just 50 seconds into the second frame, making the score 2-1.
The game was turning. Ohio State controlled the start of the second. They took the momentum.
Then it was gone in a matter of 30 seconds.
“(It) deflated us,” said Ohio State captain Cory Schneider. “I thought our compete level went down a little after those two goals.”
Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki sensed the momentum switch and reacted by pulling Heeter, who has been one of the conference’s best goalies this season. The move responded more to the swing in emotions than a lack of confidence in Heeter.
“Two goals happen for us, bang-bang, and we had to make a change,” Osiecki said. “It was just a situation where maybe this will jump start our team.”
Backup goalie Brad Hjelle didn’t allow a goal on 18 shots in his 30 minutes of work, but by then, it was too late.
Wohlberg probably stole one on his goal, with a shot that Heeter usually saves. Wohlberg skated with the puck for half the length of the ice. He attacked Heeter toward his glove side, flicked one toward his pad, and somehow forced the puck through.
“On Friday, I tried to cut to the middle, and it didn’t work out,” Wohlberg said. “But tonight, I tried to put it off the pad, and it snuck right under there … (I) just (used) outside speed and it worked out.”
After this weekend’s sweep, Michigan finds itself just five points behind the first-place Buckeyes. The first time the two teams played this season, Michigan coach Red Berenson said he thought Michigan outplayed Ohio State at times, but not enough to overcome a few unlucky breaks.
The roles reversed this weekend. The Ohio State sweep in November catapulted the Buckeyes to the top of the CCHA standings, while Michigan fell into a long slump. Now, it is Ohio State that finds itself sliding, and the Wolverines haven’t lost in nine games.
There’s more: In the second game of that November series, Michigan was the team that grabbed the momentum. They too lost it in a two-goal burst in less than 30 seconds in the second period.
This time, the skate was on the other foot.
“We just kept bringing the pressure every single line,” Wohlberg said. “It wasn’t them … it was our stronger play.”