BOWLING GREEN, OHIO — Now we know why hockey is a 60-minute game: it often takes that long for someone to win.
In one of the more memorable finishes ever between Ohio State and Bowling Green, the game was decided in the final minute when the teams traded goals, with OSU rookie J.B. Bittner scoring the winning goal with 27 seconds left in regulation.
The Falcons put extreme pressure on the Buckeye net in the final minute to try and tie the
game up at three goals apiece. With massive confusion in front of the OSU net, the puck somehow squirted out to a pinching BG defenseman, Brian Escobedo, who took a big swing at it, hitting the inside of the cross bar over top of a sprawling Mike Betz. The puck found itself inside the goal and the eruption of the crowd engulfed the BGSU Ice Arena, but there were still 47 seconds left to play.
With the Falcons looking to get out of their own defensive zone, BG center Greg Day coughed up the puck next to the Falcon net, where Buckeye sophomore Dave Steckel found it. Steckel who slid it over to Bittner, who shot it in past a surprised Masters to win the game.
“This why college hockey is so great,” OSU head coach John Markell said. “It was a one-goal game that was fought until the end. Last night we played two good periods and lost. Tonight we played a lot better and with more emotion.”
Tempers flared early in the game, and things got out of hand when a Falcon player ran OSU goaltender Mike Betz as the final buzzer sounded. The two teams ended the game with both benches joining in the post-game activities. The two players that won the game for the Buckeyes were given game disqualifications while Colen Pappas and Mark Wires were given the same.
Both teams were assessed 102 penalties in the third period for a game total of 151 penalty minutes.
“When you see one of your guys out there in a scuffle you have to do something about it,” Escobedo said. “You don’t want anybody to get hurt out there and you want to protect your teammates. What happened though showed that we have some good chemistry on this team.”
The game started innocently enough with Scott May netting his third goal of the season when he found a rebound in front of Masters to put the Buckeyes up 1-0 5:44 into the first period.
The Falcons got a lucky bounce less than two minutes later when Ryan Wetterberg dumped the puck into the OSU zone, but the puck took an unusual path off the boards. Mike Betz could not play it as the puck moved across in front of him to Austin de Luis, who backhanded it into the net to tie the game.
Then came the first ejection of the game when OSU’s T.J. Latorre hit BG’s Ryan Minnnabarreit from behind and into the boards. Latorre received a major penalty and automatic game misconduct, and the the Falcons were given a five-minute power play which was nullified with 2:34 to go in the man-advantage when Wires was called for obstruction hooking.
Mike McCormick put the Bucks up on top in the second period on a power play at 2:19, only to see Minnabariett tie it up again soon after with his third goal of the season.
The real turning point of the game was moments later when Wetterberg fed the puck to de Luis on a 2-on-1 breakaway only to have de Luis’ one-timer find its way to Betz’ glove, keeping the game tied.
Yan Des Gange put the Buckeyes up 3-2 at the 16:50 mark of the second to wrap up an eventful period.
“I am extremely proud of how we played tonight,” Bowling Green head coach Buddy Powers said. “The save on de Luis was the real turning point in the game because we had the
momentum and we would have been in the lead. This hurts more than any hockey game that I have coached in a long time.”
The Falcons are now 1-2-1 in CCHA play, while the Buckeye improve to 2-1-1.