COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Buckeyes scored three unanswered before the Falcons found their bearings to return a pair of their own, as Ohio State squeaked by Bowling Green, 3-2.
OSU had its high-octane power play and forwards Matt Beaudoin and Kyle Hood to thank in large part for Friday’s win. The Buckeyes connected on their first two power plays — one a Beaudoin goal, both helped by Hood — and Beaudoin added what held up to be the game-winner in the second.
Ohio State head coach John Markell said that although his squad converted twice in the first, BGSU goaltender Jordan Sigalet kept the game closer than it could have been.
“We had a number of opportunities to score goals in the first period but I thought Sigalet obviously did his job. Then we stopped our feet moving in the second period after the delay, and in the third period we did enough to get the win. I’m proud of our guys for getting the win this time of year. A win’s a win.”
The Buckeyes controlled nearly every aspect of the game from the initial drop of the puck, as evidenced by the obstruction-holding call they drew on Alex Rogosheske just 23 seconds into the contest. Capitalizing on that power play at 1:44 seemed to knock the Falcons off their game, but BG recovered to the point of pressuring OSU in the third period with 14 shots and nearly tying it up with Sigalet out of the net for the final 1:50 of the game.
“After the first 10 minutes of the game when we got ourselves settled a little bit, and got our five-on-five game going pretty well, we started creating pretty good chances,” said BGSU head coach Scott Paluch. “Even when they got the third goal and were up 3-0, we were actually playing pretty well at that time.
“We’ve been in that situation quite a bit and been able to get ourselves back into a lot of hockey games. Our team is going to keep going regardless of the score.”
Bryce Anderson scored that initial OSU goal from mid-slot, a one-timer that beat Sigalet on the right midway up. From the right point, Hood passed left to Rod Pelley, who centered the pass for Anderson’s eighth goal of the season.
At 8:40, Beaudoin registered his first by giving Hood’s shot from between the top of the circles a midair redirect, again beating Sigalet on the right, midway up. At 10:58 in the second, Beaudoin was able to make the best of a scramble for the puck in front of Sigalet, picking up Lee Spector’s rebound and poking home his 17th goal of the year and making it 3-0.
For some teams, that might have been the game, but the Falcons kept coming, pestering the Buckeyes around the net and earning their first goal of the night at 17:03, when Jonathan Matsumoto scored — on his back — from Alex Foster’s behind-the-net feed to make it 3-1.
With 43.8 seconds left in the second and a two-man BG advantage, Matsumoto appeared to have cut the Buckeye lead to one goal on a sweet, cross-crease feed from James Unger, but referee Matt Shegos ruled that Matsumoto directed the puck in with his skate, and OSU caught a break.
Unger scored at 14:25 in the third to finally make it a one-goal game, the result of an aggressive Falcon backcheck. Unger and Brett Pilkington flew into the Buckeye zone two-on-one after Derek Whitmore fed Pilkington on the left wing. Pilkington drew OSU goaltender Dave Caruso left and shuffled the puck right to Unger, who went behind the committed Caruso for the goal.
With Sigalet out of net, the Falcons created several opportunities to tie the game, the most notable a double-team by Matsumoto and Unger just outside the Buckeye crease, but Caruso and the Buckeyes held on.
The Buckeyes were 2-for-7 on the power play, holding the Falcons 0-for-7. Caruso had 30 saves to Sigalet’s 33.
“I thought ultimately special teams were the difference in the hockey game,” said Paluch. “I thought their penalty kill was outstanding, their power play got the two goals and got them off to the lead.
“It was the type of game we expected. It was hard up and down, physical, great chances both ways, both goalies made some outstanding saves, and right down to the last minute and 40 seconds when we gave ourselves some good chances there — and they get the win.”
Midway through the second period — just after OSU went up 3-0 — two different panes of glass broke in separate incidents less than a minute apart on the game clock, but in real time 13 minutes apart, given repair times. The one to the left and behind the BG net was the result of a charge at 13:24 — a call for which Foster went to the box — and at 14:22, a hard shot broke a pane behind Sigalet.
In total, play was stopped for 17 minutes, which Markell thought was a turning point.
“I thought was played a decent game until the glass started breaking all over the place. For some reason, we lost momentum and it seemed to charge them.”
Paluch, however, saw it differently. “I’m not quite sure that in that kind of game it made a big difference either way. At that time we were still giving ourselves a pretty good chance five-on-five … but I don’t think that break took away any of their momentum. Both teams were pretty set at that time.”
Hood said that it was BGSU’s game plan that changed things for the second half of the contest.
“They did a really good job of taking away the walls. I think they did a good job of taking away our options along the boards and force our defensemen to kind of force plays that maybe weren’t there all the time.”
Ohio State (21-7-3, 18-4-1 CCHA) and Bowling Green (13-10-4, 10-8-3 CCHA) meet for their final regular-season game Saturday at 7:05 p.m. in Value City Arena.