The win was the first-ever for Northern Michigan in Value City Arena. Previously, NMU was 0-6 in VCA, but the Wildcats did earn two wins during a playoff victory over the Buckeyes last season at the OSU Ice Rink, their first wins in Ohio's capital since 1981.
The only time the 4,279 in attendance had a chance to cheer came with 7:07 to play when it appeared Ohio State had equalized with a goal by freshman Sergio Somma, but the goal was waved off because it was played by a high stick by senior Tommy Goebel before it bounced to Somma.
Other than that, Stewart was flawless, stopping everything the Buckeyes threw at him, up to and including the kitchen sink. OSU (9-21-3, 5-16-2 Central Collegiate Hockey Association) had 17 shots in the first, 14 in the second and 15 in the third.
"We have to figure out a way to get to those rebounds and second chances," OSU head coach John Markell said. "They're man on man down low, and that's extremely hard to play against. Our guys have to figure out that they're not going to call penalties. You're going to get mauled. You have to figure out a way to get to that puck, but certainly (Stewart) looked confident in the nets. It was a goaltending dual. At points you need a break."
It appeared the Buckeyes even received some of those breaks they needed, but they were not enough. A breakout pass that would have given Siddall a breakaway with just seconds remaining in the first could not be corralled by the NMU forward, and the Wildcats (13-15-3, 10-11-2) had a goal disallowed late in the second thanks to goaltender interference.
In between, Siddall got his goal, his ninth of the year, one second after an OSU penalty ended. His soft shot – a change-up, really, and certainly not a fastball – from the top of the left circle sneaked through a screen and past a handcuffed Joseph Palmer with 8:15 left in the second period. It was the only one of the Wildcats' 26 shots that got by Palmer; the other goal was an empty-netter with 51.0 seconds left off the stick of Mark Olver, giving Olver two points on the night.
Four minutes after Siddall's goal, a shot by NMU's Alan Dorich from the right point got behind Palmer, but the goal was waved off because Wildcat Matt Butcher was in the crease and jostled Palmer. Dorich instead will have to continue to look for his first goal of the year.
Ohio State felt the sting of a disallowed goal while trying to fight back. Defenseman Corey Toy shot from the right point, and Goebel, right of the net, knocked down the shot with a high stick. It went right to Somma in the crease, and the Buckeye swiped it into the net for what looked like the tying goal, but Stewart protested immediately and referee Matt Shegos waved off the goal.
"I thought both calls were right," NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. "Our guy was in the crease behind their goaltender. I couldn't see from where our video was whether he interfered but I guarantee (Palmer) saw it. I guarantee it was the right call. And their called back goal was the right call as well. We could see that from the bench."
All of the other chances were vacuumed by the respective goaltenders. Stewart in particular was sharp, stopping Patrick Schafer with a shoulder save midway through the first, doing the same on captain Matt McIlvane late in the second and denying Goebel twice from the slot with 5:30 to play. Most of OSU's other 46 goalward attempts were softer shots that the NMU defense knocked away before a rebound could enter the cage.
"Our defensemen have been doing a great job stepping up and limiting the rebounds," said Stewart, who is now 3-0 in Columbus.
On the other side, Ohio State was left supremely frustrated.
"Every so often you look up at the scoreboard and see what you have (in shots), but we were just trying to throw everything on net and crash the goal," said defenseman Johann Kroll.
Palmer was good as well, making his best save 3:30 into the third when he sprawled across the crease to make a sterling pad stop on Phil Fox and keep the score at 1-0.
NMU is now 3-0-2 in their last five games, all of which have come against Big Ten opposition in Michigan, Michigan State and OSU.
The two teams will play again Saturday night at 7:05 p.m., with Ohio State celebrating Senior Night afterward. Whether the Buckeyes will be with senior Tom Fritsche, who was not dressed after violating team rules during the week, will remain to be seen.