BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The Ohio State Buckeyes (4-6-1; 4-4-2 CCHA) used a solid performance from freshman goaltender Joseph Palmer, coupled with a strong defensive stand and penalty kill as they cruised past the Bowling Green Falcons, 4-1, at the BG Ice Arena on Saturday night.
Palmer stopped 20 of the 21 shots he saw, finishing up the weekend sweep en route to Perani Cup first-star honors, backstopping the Buckeyes to their first road sweep of the season against a struggling Falcon squad.
The sweep was a big one in the eyes of the freshman.
“The past two weekends at home, we’ve only taken one point,” said Joseph. “It was definitely a confidence-builder for us. We came down here knowing we could win and expecting to win, and that was big.”
Buckeye coach John Markell was equally pleased with the performance of his team this weekend.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve swept,” he said. “The kids that played tonight, they came to play. Bowling Green came out and played the way we thought they were going to play. We had to play hard in order to get those points.”
The penalty kill played a key factor in the Ohio State victory; the Buckeyes killed all seven power plays they faced, including a two-minute five-on-three in the opening period.
“I thought we had good stickwork,” said Markell. “We were winning some of the one-on-one battles down below. We were all moving as a unit. It wasn’t just one guy moving. All four guys were moving [on the penalty-kill].”
Bowling Green coach Scott Paluch was happy with the effort his team gave in the first two periods, trailing the Buckeyes just 1-0 at that point, but thought they faltered in the third.
“We were in pretty good shape going into the third period. I don’t think we did a great job of getting enough pucks deep in the 3rd period; consequently, we turned the puck over a little bit. We had some chances in the first two [periods], but we didn’t give ourselves enough chances in the third.”
Paluch was disappointed in his team’s power play. The Falcons have converted on just two of their last 57 power-play opportunities.
“We didn’t win enough faceoffs on the power play. We lost too many draws, and we’re starting too many power plays back in our own end. We did some good things, but I want our power play much further along than it is right now.”
Saturday’s contest was a much tighter one, compared with 9-3 drubbing the Buckeyes put on the Falcons last night. The finale of the series was a one-goal game into the third period. The Falcons stayed within striking distance until the last minute of the game, when an empty-net goal by Sean Collins helped to give the Buckeyes the sweep.
The Buckeyes got on the board first with a rebound goal off the stick of senior Matt Waddell. Right wing Zach Pelletier got the initial shot off from the right circle, a wrister through traffic. Bowling Green goaltender Jimmy Spratt could not control the rebound and Waddell was there to slide it through the five-hole for his first goal of the year. The goal came at 9:39 of the opening period.
The Buckeyes lit the lamp again in the opening minutes of the third period. Junior defenseman Kyle Hood wristed a shot from inside the blue line that found its way through traffic and past the outstretched glove of Spratt for his first goal of the year. The marker came at 2:49 of the period and was assisted by Domenic Maiani.
“Hood is a utility guy for us. He got thrown in there when [Kevin] Montgomery went down with a concussion. He’s got the ability to walk the line like that.”
John Dingle gave the Buckeyes a two-goal cushion once again at 14:58 of the final period. Dingle was able to find his way around center Jonathan Matsumoto to flip a shot over the goaltender’s glove from the left circle. The goal was Dingle’s fourth of the year and was assisted by Collins.
The Falcons got on the board just over a minute later. Junior defenseman Michael Hodgson took a nifty pass from Todd McIlrath just outside the crease and banged it home for his first goal of the year. John Mazzei also assisted.
Just seconds after BG pulled the goalie for an extra attacker, Collins cleared the puck off the boards in his own end; the puck then caromed toward the empty net to finish out the Ohio State scoring.
Spratt stopped 25 of the 28 shots he saw on the night.
Neither team scored on the power play. The Buckeyes went 0 for 5 with the man-advantage, while the Falcons (3-8-1; 1-7-0 CCHA) were shut out in seven attempts.