COLUMBUS, Ohio — Buckeye defender Pete Broccoli made his first collegiate goal matter.
At 4:31 in overtime, Broccoli’s patient one-timer on a heads-up feed from R.J. Umberger gave Ohio State the 5-4 win over Bowling Green, giving the Buckeyes the split on the weekend and preserving their tie for third in the CCHA with Northern Michigan.
Seconds after Mike Betz made a game-saving stop on Curtis Valentine at the other end, Umberger picked up Valentine’s rebound and took it the length of the ice, looking for an opportunity.
“I was just trying to get to the net, actually,” said Umberger. “I saw Paul [Caponigri] go to the net and tried to get it to him, and then…I found Pete there, and it worked out well. The main thing was trying to get to the net to create something.”
That Broccoli was in position to become the unlikely hero surprised no one more than Broccoli. “I was just getting off, going for the bench, but when their defenseman fell, I jumped up to make it an odd-man rush.
“When R.J. took the puck to the net, I was calling for a drop pass there. I flew over to the front of the net, and out came the puck. I was thinking about shooting backhand when the defenseman went down, but I stopped and just fired it, and it went in.”
Broccoli, a stay-at-home kind of guy, admitted that he had something else on his mind.
“If the puck didn’t come out, I was getting my tail back.”
With less than four minutes to go in regulation, Ohio State had a 4-2 lead, with two goals by J.F. Dufour, a goal by Umberger, and Miguel Lafleche’s shorthander, his first tally of the season.
But a pair of Ryans — Murphy and Fultz — changed the direction of the game, however briefly.
At 16:22 in the third, with OSU leading 4-2 and the Falcons on the power play, Murphy took advantage of a logjam in front of the net, crashing in to pick up Scott Hewson’s initial shot, blocked by a Buckeye defender. The goal beat Betz clean and brought the Falcons to within one.
Then Fultz tied it up at 19:16 when Bowling Green had the extra skater. Fultz picked up his own rebound and skated around behind the net from right to left, jamming the puck in low between Betz and the left post.
“When it went four-two, we were telling guys on the bench that there was still plenty of time,” said Bowling Green head coach Buddy Powers. “We got one and that kind of fired the bench up, and we got the next one in the end.”
Just over a minute into the overtime, Buckeye Andre Signoretti found himself in the penalty box, and Ohio State was facing a power play that had already registered four goals in this two-game series. But as OSU head coach John Markell said, “The momentum shifts when you kill a penalty in overtime.”
And shift it did. During the kill, Lafleche had another shorthanded opportunity that went wide, and when the penalty was over, Jaisen Freeman had a couple of chances of his own at the right point.
But it was Betz’s blocker stop on Valentine that turned the tide and led to the Buckeye win.
Umberger said that the Buckeyes were “disappointed” that they let a two-goal lead dissipate with so little time remaining in regulation. “We outplayed them for the second night in a row. We just needed to find a way to win it, whether it was in the third period or in overtime.”
Markell said that given the number of minutes the Buckeyes spent in the box tonight — 42 all told, helped by Caponigri’s 10-minute misconduct — holding on to the lead was difficult.
“It’s hard to play a game five-on-four, and we were getting tired of doing it. Obviously we had momentum, and we lost it. But we played about 13 minutes of the last 25 shorthanded. I thought we had the game in hand, and all of a sudden all these penalties were flying around, and we basically started rotating six guys through. It’s hard to play that way.
“But we got through it. Nice play by Broccoli. Some good penalty killing, obviously. Some mistakes made. Some lessons learned, and hopefully we go on from here. It’s a good two points before we go into this little bit of a break.”
Powers said that his team played well in the two-game set, creating welcome offense. “Four goals on back-to-back nights, that’s a pretty exciting thing for us. That’s a good sign. But we gave up too many tonight, and that’s a bad sign.
“We banged some rebounds in last night. I don’t think Betz had his best weekend, but it’s probably hard to play when you’re not getting a ton of shots. He’s had other games where he’s had 30, 40 shots on goal, and he’s probably gotten in a rhythm when the puck starts looking really big, while in these two games, the puck didn’t. But he still made a big save at the end of the game before they went down and score their winning goal, so he did what he had to do to win tonight.
“You know, overtime — one shot does it and they did it. Our guys certainly don’t feel any sense of accomplishment right now.”
Tyler Masters had another solid game in net for Bowling Green, stopping 33 of 38 shots. Betz had 19 saves in the win.
The Bowling Green power play capitalized twice on nine attempts, while the Buckeyes were 1-for-4.
With the win, Ohio State improves to 7-4-0 (5-3-0 CCHA), while the Falcons are 2-6-2 (2-4-2 CCHA). The split means the teams are tied at one game apiece in the race for the Ohio Cup. The two teams do not meet again in regular-season play.
Bowling Green spends Thanksgiving in Fairbanks, playing the Nanooks Nov. 24-25. The Buckeyes next play on Tuesday, Nov. 28, when they host Findlay.