COLUMBUS — There have been many times this season when the No. 11 Michigan hockey team has missed opportunities in their losses. But in Value City Arena, the Wolverines literally passed on a chance to win the game.
About a minute into overtime in Michigan’s 3-2 loss to Ohio State, senior forward Matt Rust came down on a two-on-one. Instead of shooting, Rust passed to senior forward Carl Hagelin, who joined the rush later.
Hagelin got hit before he could get a shot off and Ohio State came down the ice the other way. After working it in the corner, Buckeye forward Alex Szczechura buried a one-timer to win the game — a game Michigan was 11 seconds away from winning.
After senior forward Louie Caporusso broke a 1-1 tie eight minutes into the third period, Michigan held onto the lead throughout the third period.
Ohio State pulled its goalie with about a minute and a half left. With the extra attacker and a sense of urgency, the Buckeyes carried the play for one of the few times all game. Junior forward David Wohlberg added to the Wolverines’ trouble as he took a cross-checking penalty with 47 seconds left to put them at a 6-on-4 disadvantage. And the Buckeye’s capitalized.
After a shot from the point, Ohio State forward Sergio Somma, who was stationed in front of junior goaltender Shawn Hunwick, found the rebound. As he was falling over Somma pushed a backhand around Hunwick’s outstretched pad to tie the game, 2-2, with 11 seconds remaining and setting the stage for the overtime winner.
The furious finish was in stark contrast to the first half of the game that saw no scoring. The first goal of the game came with 15 minutes left in the second period. Ohio State’s John Albert drove down the right win and flung a backhand on net as junior defenseman Brandon Burlon was on his hip. The soft shot went five-hole on senior goaltender Shawn Hunwick and put the Buckeye’s up one goal.
But Hunwick didn’t have to wait long for Michigan — or Ohio State (2-5-1-1 CCHA, 5-7-1 overall) — to make up for his mistake.
The Wolverines (7-2-1-0, 8-4-4) went on the power play less than a minute after Albert’s goal went in. With Michigan on the power play, freshman defenseman Jon Merrill pinched down from the point and squeezed himself along the boards to negate a Buckeye clearing attempt.
Eventually the puck came back to Merrill and as he tried to make a cross-ice pass the puck went off a Buckeye forward’s skate and into the net. The goal came with more than half the second period to play in a game where goals appeared precious.
Merrill’s marker looked like an important, but in the end the goal wasn’t nearly as important as a pass.