KALAMAZOO, Mich. — After suffering a spectacular third-period collapse on Friday night, Ohio State was all business on Saturday, downing Western Michigan 5-1. Buckeye goaltender Mike Betz had a near-perfect night, turning away 29 of 30 shots.
The OSU special teams in front of Betz were spectacular as well; the Buckeyes killed eight of nine Bronco power plays.
“I thought tonight was a physical game, and our penalty kill was the difference,” said OSU head coach John Markell.
Betz proved to be the difference as the Bronco sharpshooters ran dry.
“Our inability to score here tonight is the difference in the game,” said WMU head coach Jim Culhane. “Obviously we got frustrated down the stretch, we outshot them 2-1.”
The Broncos appeared to score midway through the second period, a goal that would have cut the Buckeye lead in half, but the puck ricocheted off the paddle of a diving Betz. Though the puck looked to have crossed the goal line, no indication was made and play continued.
It didn’t take the Buckeyes long to the offense rolling when Bryce Anderson deflected Thomas Welsh’s shot from the blue line into the net on the power play, giving OSU the lead, 1-0, at 7:01 of the first.
A little over four minutes later Paul Caponigri gave his club a two-goal advantage as he broke in alone on WMU goaltender Scott Foster. Foster, after being spectacular the previous night, looked human, surrendering four goals on just 17 shots.
Doug Andress’ shot from the top of the right circle deflected off a Bronco skater and into the net at just 1:21 into the second period and OSU had a 3-0 lead after two.
All the Broncos could hope for was another four-goal effort in the final period as they had on Friday, but it was not to be.
Vince Bellissimo tallied the lone WMU goal with a power-play effort at 12:36 of the third, pulling his club within 4-1 after a goal by OSU’s Matt Beaudoin.
With over three minutes remaining in the period Foster was pulled in favor of the extra attacker, but Scott May stole the puck for the easy empty-net goal, sealing the victory.
The loss was just the Broncos’ third to a CCHA opponent at home this year, and just the fifth overall.
With the victory OSU maintains a two-point advantage over WMU in the conference standings.
The Broncos now look ahead to next weekend as they prepare to close out the road portion of their schedule against Miami. The Buckeyes are idle next weekend, before taking on the same Miami club on March 5.