Two minutes lost two games for the No. 7 Michigan hockey team over the weekend.

On Friday night, the Wolverines couldn’t capitalize on a five-minute power play because junior forward Lindsay Sparks drew a penalty of his own to squash the advantage.

On Saturday night, No. 14 Ohio State scored twice in the last minute of its own five-minute power play it drew on a crushing hit from junior forward Chris Brown.

Two lousy minutes decided a weekend sweep for the Buckeyes.

The Wolverines were 45 seconds from acquiring an important dose of momentum on Saturday night. They were tied 2-2 with Ohio State in the second period of a game that would seemingly be close until the end.

But with about 15 minutes left in the period, Brown lined up Buckeye defenseman Devon Krogh.

Demolished isn’t really the right word.

Krogh slid the puck up the right side of the ice, but Brown read the play the whole way and gained a full head of steam before blowing up Krogh. Krogh started about three feet from the boards, but ended with his head smashed against the base.

It took Krogh a couple minutes to get off the ice, and even then he needed two teammates to basically carry him into the locker room.

The hit was delivered late, so Brown took a five-minute major penalty for boarding.

The penalty was completely unnecessary, but it almost turned into a positive, momentum-building play.


Michigan’s penalty-kill unit stayed strong for the first four minutes. It looked as if the Wolverines were going to fend off the power play and take a full head of steam going into the final period.

But then the Buckeyes slipped the go-ahead goal in with less than a minute left on the penalty and took a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Before the Yost Ice Arena announcer had time to finish announcing the goal, Ohio State put another one past senior goaltender Shawn Hunwick 16 seconds later, effectively icing the game. Because it was a major penalty, Brown had to remain in the box.

Forty-five seconds changed everything for the Wolverines.

Michigan mounted a comeback in the third period, but the two-goal deficit was too much to overcome.

“I thought we were having a good game until that five-minute major,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “That was huge. We had to battle back from that, and we did, but it was too little, too late.”

Killing a five-minute major is a major strain on the penalty-kill unit. Players who don’t usually play with each other and players who don’t usually play on the penalty kill are forced to go on the ice. The first two units cannot play intense, in-your-face defense for the full five minutes, so the units get spread around.

Still, the Buckeyes executed a five-minute major on Friday night. It can be done.

While Brown had the biggest penalty of the night, whistles killed Michigan all night.

Ohio State had another power-play goal in the third period that squashed a Wolverine rally. On that goal, the PA announcer started to say “Michigan penalty … ” but then cut himself short.

He slipped up because he was so used to saying “Michigan penalty,” and understandably so. The Wolverines had six penalties for 15 minutes on the night.

Those numbers aren’t astoundingly high, but they are also not a blueprint for success.

“If we are going to take penalties we have to be able to kill them,” said senior forward Luke Glendening. “They were a big factor.”

But it all comes back to that five-minute major. To be so close to killing that penalty, only to give up two goals in 16 seconds, squashed whatever confidence Michigan had.

For a young team, confidence is one of the biggest factors in the game. That 45-second stretch in the second wasn’t the end of the game, but it sure felt like it.

“If we would have killed that, the momentum would have changed drastically,” Glendening said. “But we let two in and had to fight back after that.”

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