BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The Ohio State Buckeyes(14-6-1; 6-5-1-1 CCHA), idle in the CCHA since Thanksgiving, returned to conference action in grand style, as they lit up the Bowling Green Falcons(7-11-3;4-7-1 CCHA) for eight goals en route to an 8-5 victory at the BG Ice Arena on Friday night.
In one of their largest offensive outputs of the year, Ohio States sixth-ranked offense posted a flurry of goals on a snowy Ohio night to push their winning streak to nine games, the longest active winning streak in the nation.
The No. 16 Buckeyes, averaging over three-and-a-half goals per game, saw scoring production from every line, each finding the back of the net at least once on the night. The final tally saw 13 Buckeye skaters put at least one point on the score sheet.
However, Ohio State had to keep holding off a Bowling Green offense that just would not quit. Trailing by three goals in the second period, the Falcons kept chipping away at the Buckeyes’ lead before finally running out of time on the clock.
“You need every point that you can get,” said Ohio State coach John Markell. “I’m happy for the guys that they won the hockey game. Bowling Green played 60 minutes of hockey and we were fortunate to outscore them tonight. We’re going to have to outplay them tomorrow.
“We bounced back from some bad situations. We got up 1-0, then got down 2-1, and bounced back to 3-2. This was a little bit of a shootout for us, but we’ll take the two points and keep learning.”
“It’s good to put eight on the board, but we have to go back and look at the tape,” said OSU captain Peter Boyd. “They got five on us, so I think there’s something we can definitely work on.”
“It was the type of hockey game that when either team was doing the things they do well, good things happened,” explained BG coach Scott Paluch. “When [Ohio State was] in transition, they were really good. When we were able to have puck possession in the offensive zone, we were pretty good. Both teams had their strengths at times, and they scored more goals.”
Sophomore goaltender Dustin Carlson turned aside 32 of BG’s 37 shots for his 12th victory of the year.
BG’s Jimmy Spratt struggled in net for the first 31 minutes of the game. The senior stopped just 16 of 22 shots before being replaced by sophomore Nick Eno. Seeing his first action of the year after suffering a high ankle sprain at the beginning of the season, Eno had a nice debut, making 10-of-11 saves to finish the contest.
“We were trying to see where Nick was as far as game timing,” said Paluch. “He handled that very well. He competed extremely well on loose pucks and rebounds. It wasn’t the ideal way to get him into the game, but it happened.”
Ohio State jumped out to a quick lead just 24 seconds into the game. Sophomore center Patrick Schafer found the puck near the right post after a shot from the point. He kept jamming the puck to the inside of the post and was rewarded with his second goal of the season.
“I really like the way Schafer’s line came out and set the tone tonight against their top line and scored a goal right away,” said Markell. “That was the plan, dump the puck in and get the puck to the paint. You want to see the guys get paid off for hard work, and it was their turn tonight.”
The Falcons tied the score at 5:44 with a power-play goal. Nick Bailen posted his second goal of the season, blasting the point shot through a screen and finding the right side of the net to knot the game at one.
BG took the lead at 8:11 with a nifty goal by sophomore David Solway. The center picked up a pass near the right circle, toe-dragged his way around a defender and wristed the shot into the top corner of the net for his 10th goal of the year.
The Buckeyes retook the lead with a pair of markers to end the opening period. Peter Boyd struck at 15:00 to tie the game with a goal off a Spratt rebound. Corey Elkins then put Ohio State in front with a wrister from the right circle at 16:27.
Zac Dalpe gave the Buckeyes a two-goal cushion at 6:33 of the second period. The Paris, Ontario freshman stole the puck from a BG player at center ice and skated in one-on-one against a Falcons’ defender. Some crafty stickwork got the winger around his defender; he then beat Spratt top shelf for his 11th marker of the year.
C.J. Severyn was next in line to add his name to the score sheet. The sophomore fired a shot from the left circle that rebounded off the pads of Spratt. Severyn then picked up his own rebound and beat the BG goaltender for his fifth goal of the year.
Bailen pulled the Falcons to within 5-3 at 10:28 of the middle period, getting his second goal of the night. The shot from the point deflected off an OSU player and through the five-hole of Carlson.
John Albert upped the Buckeyes’ lead again less than a minute later, beating Spratt glove side for his 14th of the season.
The third period was a see-saw affair that saw the Falcons pull to within two goals twice. A five-minute checking from behind major assessed to OSU’s Zac Dalpe gave BG a shot to put some quick goals on the board, but a short-handed goal by Shane Sims put the nail into the Falcons’ coffin.
“We didn’t give ourselves a chance on the five-minute [penalty],” said Paluch. “We go minus one on that five-minute kill. It would have been nice to cut into the lead at that time and extend the game a little bit. We were able to get it back to two, but I would like to have seen a better result on that power play.”
“Our guys got a little loose,” added Markell. “They didn’t dump pucks in. The defenseman rushed up the ice thinking they were going to score a goal. Our forwards were thinking they were going to score a goal, and all of a sudden, it’s the reverse; it’s a breakaway the other way. One of the things we have to learn as a team is the ebb and flow of momentum. It could have shifted very quickly there.”