KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The wheels on the Buckeye bus were rolling along smoothly through the opening two periods of play. In the third they fell off.
A four-goal flurry in the final period of play pushed Western Michigan to a 4-1 victory over 12th-ranked Ohio State.
Jeremy Cheyne netted the game winner at 9:38 of the third moments after stepping out of the penalty box. Cheyne took a long pass from Brent Walton and broke in alone on OSU’s David Caruso; Cheyne deked twice and put it home top-shelf over Caruso’s blocker.
The goal knotted the game 1-1, and woke up a Bronco offense that had been dormant for 40 minutes.
“I told the guys after the game I was pleased with the way we persevered and stayed patient,” said WMU head coach Jim Culhane. “We didn’t let it rattle us and we found a way to score some goals.”
The trapping style of OSU kept the hard-charging Broncos at bay through the first two periods; the Broncos recorded just 17 shots on goal, as the Buckeye defense did an outstanding job of blocking shots and deflecting pucks to the corner.
Western Michigan put forth an equally solid defensive effort on the night, with OSU’s lone goal coming off the stick of Sean Collins. Collins released a low shot from the along the boards that skipped on the ice and beat Scott Foster at the far post, just 1:12 into the second period.
Walton had an outstanding offensive game, playing a role in three of his club’s four goals and scoring the Broncos’ second by lifting a wrister from the top of the circle over Caruso’s shoulder at 12:55 of the third, giving his team its first lead.
“The first two periods their goalie stood on his head,” said Walton. “But we finally caught our break with Cheyne coming out of the box, and after that it was like a waterfall.”
Despite an inability to capitalize in the first 40 minutes the Broncos remained confident.
“Heading into the third, even though their goalie stood on his head, we believed we were going to come out with the win,” said Walton.
At 14:21 Lucas Drake cut across the crease and a tucked a shot inside the near post to give his club a three-goal edge, and less than a minute later Jeff Campbell found an opening between Caruso’s pads to seal the victory.
The loss snaps a four-game win streak for the Buckeyes, and a six-game win streak over the Broncos.
The victory is the Broncos’ fifth over a nationally-ranked opponent on the year, as they improved to 11-4-1 at home this season.
The Broncos and Buckeyes will close the season series Saturday night, with the puck set to drop at 8:05 p.m. at Lawson Arena.