COLUMBUS, Ohio — It was the second consecutive 3-2 win over Bowling Green for Ohio State, and Saturday’s boxscore was nearly identical to Friday’s: two power-play goals and a 3-0 lead by the midway point in the second, goals in the middle and last periods for BGSU, and Buckeyes Matt Beaudoin and Kyle Hood and Falcon Jonathan Matsumoto all over the scoresheet.
Again, Ohio State’s league-leading special teams were the difference in a game that, while looking similar to Friday’s contest, felt very different. Both teams had jump and played consistently with intensity, the game was fast — just two hours and 21 minutes — and if the momentum shifted BG’s way in spots it was due to the flow of its game rather than the interruption of two panes of broken glass.
“I really felt like our guys were in it for 60 minutes and we were doing the little things right,” said OSU head coach John Markell. “The only momentum buster was penalties. That’s the way the game was called and we had to respond accordingly.”
Beaudoin had the first goal on the power play at 2:46 in the first, a perfectly executed tic-tac-toe marker, scored from where he was camped out at the left post and assisted by Andrew Schembri and Tom Fritsche.
Tyson Strachan made it 2-0 at 14:37 when he broke in solo on Falcon goaltender Jordan Sigalet after he and Dominic Maiani converged on Alex Rogosheske in the neutral zone to force a turnover. Strachan moved from forehand to back at the last minute and put the puck in under Sigalet’s outstretched right leg.
At 5:02 in the second, Hood ripped one from the top of the slot on the power play to make it 3-0.
But since this was Bowling Green, all 11,570 fans in attendance had to know the game was far from over.
“We did enough, when we got up 3-0 again,” said Markell. “It’s a hard lead to hold. They do a good job; they keep coming. They work, work, work, work, work, and there’s no give.”
At 12:57 in the second, the Falcons made it 3-1 on Alex Foster’s tip of Matsumoto’s shot from the right point, and at 8:27 in the third, Matsumoto netted his 13th of the season when he popped in Mike Falk’s rebound from close range on the BG power play.
Late in the game, even when the Buckeyes had a two-man advantage of their own, the Falcons kept coming, forcing an odd-man rush during that penalty kill and still able to recover in time to prevent OSU’s Dan Knapp from scoring the other way.
“They were giving everything they got,” said Markell. “They kept getting pucks in deep and they get out there and they throw them right out front and there’s no looking for them. We knew that was going to happen, but still, our guys have to respond to that. You knew that they were coming, and you couldn’t be as aggressive on your power play because you knew that they were waiting for a bounce of the puck. We couldn’t really put them away.”
Just as he did in Friday’s game, Matsumoto forced OSU goaltender Dave Caruso to make a highlight-reel save in the closing seconds, with Sigalet pulled in for the extra Falcon skater. And, just as in Friday’s contest, the Buckeyes never had a decent shot at the empty net.
“This is clearly one of the top teams in the country; there’s no question about it,” said BGSU head coach Scott Paluch. “When you look at what they have on their team from the goaltender on out — they’ve got a top-notch goaltender, they’re deep on defense, and they’re as quick and skilled and as physical as any team that’s going to play.
“You can’t come in here and expect to fall behind by three goals and think that’s the best way to earn points here.”
The Buckeyes were 2-for-7 on the power play — as they were Friday — while the Falcons were 1-for-8, the only BGSU power-play goal in 15 attempts on the weekend, including four five-on-three advantages, all of which Ohio State killed.
Markell said that there’s no secret to the Buckeyes’ success in those situations. “We get a lot of practice at it,” he joked. “That’s the most five-on-threes that we killed off in the last six games. I’m not saying we didn’t deserve the penalties.”
Caruso finished the night with 26 saves for his 20th win of the season, while Sigalet stopped 35; the Buckeyes outshot the Falcons 38-28.
Although Ohio State has now won nine consecutive games against the Falcons, including the last seven meetings in Columbus, Sigalet had an outstanding series against the Buckeyes this weekend, a team that has had his number for his entire collegiate career. His play — and the fact that he is playing after having announced his diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in December — wasn’t lost on Markell.
“I’d like to take a moment to congratulate that young man, Jordan Sigalet, for the performance he puts on every single night under the circumstances under which he’s playing.
“I’m a Bowling Green alumnus, and I was very proud of the way that team played, of where they’ve come from, and it starts in leadership in net with Jordan. He’s doing great things for them.”
Next up for Bowling Green (13-11-4, 10-9-3 CCHA) is a two-game home set against Western Michigan Feb. 18-19, while the Buckeyes (22-7-3, 19-4-1 CCHA) travel to East Lansing to take on Michigan State next weekend.