BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — This was not the game Ohio State envisioned coming into Big Rapids.
It was a story of bad breaks, defensive mistakes, and an energized Bulldog squad for the Buckeyes to play.
Jeff Legue tallied his second of three goals at 10:13 of the second period on a breakaway, intercepting a cross-ice pass in the defensive zone and deking to a backhand that OSU goalie Mike Betz got a piece of, but still had enough velocity to trickle into the net to make it 3-0.
The goal was the eventual game winner in a 5-2 victory for Ferris State, the fifth straight loss for the Buckeyes on Ferris’ home ice.
“We had a couple fortunate bounces today that went in for us,” Bulldog coach Bob Daniels said. “Mike Brown really stepped it up tonight and made some great saves. Jeff Legue has been snakebit lately, but the last six games he has really been playing well. Today, he took advantage of his opportunities and capitalized.”
The first period was a bad omen for Ohio State as Nate Guenin went down with a freak injury. Simon Mangos went for the puck with Guenin coming the other direction. Mangos saw him and braced for the hit, but Guenin got the worst of it.
Guenin went airborne and hit the boards awkwardly. The paramedics wrapped his leg up and carted him off the ice on a stretcher. Guenin raised his hand to show he was OK, but the real question is how extensive the damage was.
“I really can’t say the game was chippy after that injury,” Daniels said. “Both teams were shook up and the players on both sides were very concerned.”
That event put Ohio State on its heels as Ferris State took control of the game, though Betz was stellar in net. The Buckeyes came on strong in the last five minutes, but goaltender Brown was equal to the task as the first period ended scoreless.
The second period was a different story as Ferris State took advantage of opportunities. Legue got the first goal on a fortunate bounce. Mangos fed Legue, who wristed a shot on net that was stopped by Betz. Legue was then pushed by a Buckeye defender into Betz and the puck trickled into the net at 4:43 to make it 1-0.
Brett Smith chipped in a quick goal 47 seconds later to make it 2-0. With the Buckeyes pressing on a 4-on-4, Derrick McIver tipped a puck into the neutral zone and found himself with Smith on a breakaway. McIver passed the puck to Smith, who buried a backhand past Betz.
With Ohio State on its heels, Ferris State took a couple of bad penalties and found itself down two men. Scott May took advantage of the opportunity at 17:23. Paul Caponigri passed the puck across the top of the crease and May was there to tap the puck past Brown to make it 3-1.
Greg Rallo gave the Bulldogs a three-goal lead again at 2:26 of the third period. Mike Kinnie wristed the puck toward the net, and Rallo was there to backhand the rebound over Betz to make it 4-1.
Legue completed his hat trick at 13:05 when Zach Pearson cleared the puck on a Buckeye power play. Legue caught up with it and had a breakaway chance on Betz. Betz went down to cover the low shot, and Legue backhanded the shot five-hole.
The bright spot for the Buckeyes was forward Scott May, who capitalized on the power play once again at 18:32. May wristed a shot over the left shoulder of Brown at 18:32 to complete the scoring.
Daniels was pleased with his team’s effort.
“I have been very happy with the way we have played,” Daniels said. “We have been more disciplined and much better defensively. I really think we need to work on special teams. Otherwise, I have seen a great improvement in all other areas.”
Ferris State and Ohio State will battle one more time on Saturday night.