COLUMBUS, Ohio — With two goal performances from Jacob Cepis and Derek Whitmore, the Bowling Green Falcons beat the Ohio State Buckeyes, 5-2, to lift themselves one game above .500 in CCHA and overall play.
Cepis’ goals came 2:12 apart in game time, the first in the final two minutes of the second period and the second in the opening minute of play in the third. Whitmore bookended the Falcon scoring with the goal to make it 1-0 at 13:01 in the first and an empty net shorthander at 19:33 in the third.
“In our estimation, it was a pretty even played hockey game throughout,” said BG head coach Scott Paluch. “They had scoring chances, we had scoring chances, and the difference in the game is we were able to finish a few off.
“There wasn’t very much different between the teams…just the difference to finish some goals.”
“No, they outplayed us, every phase of the game,” countered OSU head coach John Markell. “First 10 minutes, I thought we played very well. I thought it was going to be a change [from games past], but the minute they score a goal, we weren’t the same team.”
The Falcons took a two-goal lead into the second period on Whitmore’s 20th of the season at 13:01 and Kai Kantola’s fifth of the year at 19:19.
On Whitmore’s goal, Mike Nesdill zipped a pass from the very top of the right point down to the lower left circle, where Whitmore was stationed and ready to redirect the puck into the gaping left side of the cage past OSU goaltender Dustin Carlson for the 1-0 Bowling Green lead.
Kantola scored from nearly the same place on the ice six minutes and change later, when he tipped in Michael Hodgson’s shot from the slot to make it 2-0 after one.
OSU’s Nick Biondo cut the Falcon lead in half at 15:19 in the second, when he called for Tom Fritsche to center from the corner, waited for the right moment, and shot through traffic to make it a 2-1 game, but BG answered just over three minutes later when Cepis netted his 11th goal of the season on a sweet, lone breakaway.
Cepis threaded Buckeyes Chris Reed and Peter Boyd at the top of the Ohio State slot and fired just as he was going down, beating Carlson clean to give Bowling Green a 3-1 lead heading into the third.
That was the turning point of the game, according to Paluch.
“I thought for us to get that third goal back late in the second period after they had closed within one — great play, [Russ] Sinkewich to Cepis to spring him in, I thought that was key — and I really liked the way our team finished off the game when Ohio State pulled the goalie and had some chances.”
Cepis scored 49 seconds into the third after stripping Buckeye Shane Sims of the puck in front of the OSU net to make it 4-1. Toward the end of the period, the Buckeyes got a little bounce out of Corey Toy’s marker from the right circle at 16:34, but in spite of drawing a tripping penalty at 17:48 and pulling Carlson for two extra attackers, Ohio State was unable to make something happen.
Whitmore’s empty-netter made it 5-2 at 19:33.
The Falcons went 0-for-6 on the power play tonight, bringing their man-advantage drought to 36 straight. OSU went 0-for-3 on the PP, as Nick Eno made 39 saves on 41 shots. Carlson finished with 32 saves in the loss.
“Let’s give credit,” said Markell. “Their goaltender was there; he played well. They took care of their opportunities. We handed them a couple, and they worked for what they had here tonight. They outworked us.”
The Falcons (13-12-0, 10-9-0 CCHA) and the Buckeyes (8-19-2, 4-14-1 CCHA) will meet for their final regular-season contest at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Value City Arena.