BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The Bowling Green Falcons and the Ohio State Buckeyes staged an entertaining matchup in front of 4,210 fans at the BG Ice Arena Saturday night, as the Buckeyes (16-12-0, 11-9-0 CCHA) skated past the Falcons 4-3.
“This was the kind of game I expected,” said OSU coach John Markell. “It was a chippy game. We had a better game plan than what we did against Michigan State. This was a good road win.”
The Buckeye offense returned to early-season form, peppering the BG net with a total of 27 shots and many quality chances. For the Bucs, it was only their third game since beating BG 7-0 in November the offense scored at least four goals in the game.
The Falcons (7-14-6, 5-11-3 CCHA) played a tough, gritty game considering they were without the services of their leading goaltender and one of their leading scorers most of the game.
Junior netminder Jordan Sigalet injured his shoulder in a collision at the net and had to leave the game at the halfway point of the first period. Sophomore center Brett Pilkington left the game a short time later as he was checked into the boards and injured his back.
Sophomore goalie Bob Frazee, seeing his first collegiate action, performed well in Sigalet’s place, stopping 22 of 25 OSU shots.
“Frazee came in and did an outstanding job,” said BG coach Scott Paluch. “He gave us a chance to win the game.”
Unfortunately for Frazee, the Buckeye offense, combined with OSU’s ability to win the physical battles, ruined the debut of BG’s backup.
“It was a good game,” said Markell. They played hard and we played hard. It was a typical Ohio State-Bowling Green game.”
If physicality is typical, Markell was right. The two teams combined for 52 minutes in penalties. Each team netted a power-play goal, BG connecting once in nine tries and OSU once in seven.
“I thrive on that kind of play,” said Buckeye assistant captain Nate Guenin, who was whistled for four of the Buckeyes’ 14 penalties.
Guenin was not happy with some of the penalties his team took. “We took some dumb penalties,” he said. “but the penalty kill came through. When you sit in the box, you’re going to lose games. We have to play five-on-five more.”
Bowling Green wasted no time lighting the lamp to start the game. Just over a minute in, senior winger Mark Wires found a loose puck in front of goaltender Mike Betz and banged it home for the quick 1-0 lead. Pilkington assisted on the play.
The Buckeyes responded at the 2:49 mark. Senior center Dave Steckel picked up his 13th goal of the year, beating Sigalet on the doorstep to tie the game at 1. Tyson Strachan and Paul Caponigri added the helpers on the goal.
“The rebound was there,” explained Steckel. “I put it in off the backhand.”
Shortly after the Buckeyes’ first goal, BGSU netminder Sigalet was injured as a Falcon defenseman was propelled into the goalie. Frazee was pressed into service.
“It happened so quick,” said Frazee of the Sigalet injury. “I was nervous and jittery, but it goes away pretty quick once you’re on the ice.”
After a holding penalty sent BG’s Jon Sitko to the box late in the period, Ohio State took the lead on its 19th power-play goal of the year. With a BG defender draped all over him, Andrew Schembri skated in and found the five-hole of Frazee to give the Bucs a 2-1 advantage. It was Schembri’s sixth goal of the season. Doug Andress and Steckel assisted.
“It was hard-fought and physical,” said Paluch. They have guys that make you pay for mistakes.”
Ohio State made it 3-1 at 7:42 of the second period when Bryce Anderson let a shot go from the right circle. The rebound came out to Frazee’s left and Chris Olsgard slammed it over the shoulder of the BG netminder for his third goal of the year. JB Bittner also assisted on the play.
A giveaway in the OSU zone allowed Bowling Green to cut the deficit to 3-2. After the Falcons took control of the puck in the zone on an attempted clear, Rob Dobek fired a shot from the top of the circle which was tipped past Betz by freshman Rich Meloche for his sixth goal of the season.
The Buckeyes regained their two-goal lead with just over five minutes left in the game. Thomas Welsh wristed the puck over the shoulder of Frazee from between the circles for the 4-2 lead. Steckel and Scott May assisted.
The Falcons would not go away, however. After a penalty to Schembri, the Falcons lit the lamp for the third time. Jonathan Sigalet took a shot from the point, but Betz could not hold on to the rebound. Steve Brudzewski was there to clean it up for his ninth goal of the season. Ryan Minnabarriet also assisted on the play.
The Falcons pulled the goalie in the final minute of the game for the extra attacker, but Betz and the Buckeye defense held strong in pulling out the victory.
Despite the loss, Frazee was upbeat. “It was amazing. [The team] rallied around me. It’s great to see how the guys reacted.”
The Falcons had 17 shots on goal against Betz, while the Buckeyes tallied 29 shots.
The win allows the Buckeyes to move into a tie for fifth place in the CCHA with Western Michigan. Each team has 22 points in the conference.
The Buckeyes will head to Big Rapids next weekend to take on the Ferris State Bulldogs, while the Falcons head to Omaha for a two-game set against the Mavericks of Nebraska Omaha.