Three times during the first seven minutes during the Buckeyes' trip to No. 2 Michigan, Wolverine players bested Buckeye goaltender Joseph Palmer only to draw iron.
"It was crazy," Palmer said.
After that, Palmer and the Buckeyes settled down. Two unassisted goals from Tommy Goebel paced the Buckeyes 3-2 upset win in front of 6,784 rowdy and ultimately disappointed Michigan fans in Yost Ice Arena.
Strong team defensive play and opportunistic scoring were the hallmarks of the night for Ohio State (4-10-1, 2-7 Central Collegiate Hockey Association), who have now won two straight games after a demoralizing 0-10-1 run. On the other hand, the win for OSU ended a 12-game winning streak for the Wolverines (13-2, 8-1 CCHA), who had bested traditional powers Wisconsin and Minnesota a weekend ago on the same ice surface.
"This is a great win for us: our biggest rival of the year, No. 2 team in the country, a great team," Goebel said. "For us to get going like this coming off another win, it gives us a lot of energy."
Goebel helped manufacture Ohio State's energy. With the Buckeyes a man down, Goebel snuck behind Michigan's defense for a shorthanded breakaway and scored on Michigan's Billy Sauer with 15:28 gone in the opening frame. Goebel's shot just snuck through the legs of Sauer and barely crossed the line before it was cleared, and referee Keith Sergott immediately pointed at the net to signal the tally.
"I kind of whiffed on the shot a little bit, but it tricked through there and went in," Goebel said. "I'd like to say I planned it, but I whiffed on the shot a little bit, but we got some bounces that we haven't been getting so it's good."
Goebel again bested Sauer – this one on an OSU power play – 2:33 into the third, but this one was more of Sauer's doing. The junior came out of his own net but could not handle a puck behind the cage, allowing Goebel to tuck it away into the vacated net.
From there, Palmer took over for the most part. After the early literal shots on goal – Chad Kolarik's rebound chance drew iron just minutes in, then Kevin Porter's power-play blast 5:40 into the first hit the pipe and Mike Mitera added another moments later – Michigan was largely punchless.
The Wolverines were held to just nine shots on Palmer during the first and six more in the second despite entering the game boasting the nation's second-best scoring offense thanks largely to senior Porter, the nation's leading scorer with 16 goals, and classmate Kolarik, who entered with nine tallies.
Kolarik left with 11. Palmer stood tall until 2:41 remained when Kolarik took a shortside pass from freshman Max Pacioretty and popped one over Palmer's shoulder. He added another with 1:18 left when Chris Summers' breakout pass hit him and he snapped one over Palmer's glove.
However, in between his two markers, Buckeye freshmen combined for a goal with 2:09 left. Chris Reed hit John Albert behind the net, then Albert fed Sergio Somma at the right post. Somma's fourth goal of the year quickly went over Sauer's shoulder.
"I think we worked for our goals," OSU head coach John Markell said. "I really thought we played a good game, the type of game you need to play in there."
When necessary, Palmer stopped high-flying Maize and Blue. He took out both Kolarik and Porter on breakaways, with Porter's chance drawing perhaps the save of the game with 5:30 left when he threw out the blocker as Porter came in on the right side. He also turned away Travis Turnbull shorthanded two minutes into the period and also flashed a pad with 3:40 left to stop a drop feed to Tristin Llewellyn.
"Our team played well tonight," Palmer said. "I just made the saves that I had to make. I was just solid, and when they needed a save I kind of pulled one out for them."
Michigan finished with 30 shots on goal, while OSU had 16. Michigan's power play was held to an 0-for-8 night.
The teams meet again Saturday at 7:35 p.m. with a radio broadcast on WOSU-AM and television shown on Comcast Local in Detroit.