COLUMBUS, Ohio — Western Michigan continued their fantastic play of late with a 4-1 win over the No. 12 Ohio State Buckeyes in front of 4.505 in Value City Arena Saturday night.
Ohio State’s (16-7-3, 9-6-3-3) loss broke a 13-game unbeaten streak and the Buckeyes are now in a three-way tie for fourth in the CCHA. Western Michigan (7-13-6, 6-9-5-1) now has points in six of their last seven games and are 10th in the conference. Ohio State defeated the Broncos in a shootout Friday.
Ohio State opened the scoring 9:01 into the first when Todd Rudasill’s shot bounced off Western Michigan goaltender Riley Gill and onto the stick of John Albert, who beat the goalie.
At the end of a first period full of bone-crunching hits, the teams had a faceoff to the left of Ohio State goalie Dustin Carlson with 2.6 seconds left. Jared Katz won the faceoff over Ohio State center Peter Boyd by pushing the puck towards the net. Broncos’ defenseman Tyler Ludwig came around the faceoff circle and took the puck and beat the stick of Carlson in exactly one second to tie the game heading into intermission.
“That was defiantly a game changer,” Boyd said. “We can’t be allowing a goal in two seconds and our line will fault for that on our team for sure.”
“That was a good momentum swing to go in (to the first intermission) tied after they scored the first goal,” Western Michigan head coach Jim Culhane said.
Despite the spirited affair early on, there were no penalties until 11:31 of the second when Broncos’ defenseman Chris Frank drew an elbowing penalty from Ohio State’s Nick Biondo. Just seconds into the power play, Western Michigan forward Patrick Galivan centered lineman Max Campbell from beside the net to beat Carlson for the Broncos’ first lead of the series.
Ohio State got their first power play at 5:17 of the third when Ohio State’s Corey Elkins was trying to skate past Frank in the Broncos’ defensive zone, drawing a roughing call. Just seconds into the ensuing man-advantage, Western Michigan’s Sean Weaver led a three-on-one break through the left side of the ice. Weaver took the shot himself and beat the glove of Carlson to give the Broncos a 3-1 lead.
After Gill nearly netted a goal from 200 feet away with Carlson pulled in the final minutes, Cam Watson was able to knock the puck into the next to give Western Michigan a 4-1 lead.
Gill had 72 saves against 75 attempted Buckeyes’ shots over the weekend. He had many key saves in the third to stave off an Ohio State rally, none as big as his glove stop of Sergio Somma while belly down on the ice during an Ohio State power play with six minutes remaining in the game.
“I thought their goaltender played awfully well,” Ohio State coach John Markell said. “And us not being able to bounce back and get any goals, we put almost 40 shots against their 19, I thought some of those shots were really good.”
“(The defensemen) cleared out the rebounds and they were there and did a great job,” Gill said. “Especially in the second period where Silver, the puck was behind me, and they were whacking away at it and he kept it out.”
Western Michigan is a team that typically gets most of their scoring production from the top line of Galivan, Campbell, and Greg Squires. On Saturday, the fourth line, which has combined for a total of three goals before the game, notched a pair of goals by Watson and Weaver.
“The last couple weeks, our last couple lines have been working their bags off and playing great hockey for us,” said Campbell. “That is why we have been successful the last couple weekends.”
“I think it was a great team effort from everyone involved with timely scoring from a lot of different people,” Culhane said. “Ohio State is a wonderful hockey team, well prepared and coached. I thought it was evenly matched all weekend, the difference being we scored on our opportunities.”
Ohio State played without leading goal scorer Zac Dalpe this weekend. Dalpe’s play has been the difference in several games during the Buckeyes’ recent streak.
“He is a competitor, he has passion for the game, and obviously he is a good hockey player,” Markell said. “He brings a little bit of balance to our lines but the team is going to have to deal with that. He will be back by the end of the season, but it doesn’t matter. When you go into a battle, you got to win it.”
Both teams have very important games next weekend. Ohio State travels to Alaska for a key match-up that could potentially decide who gets a first round bye in the CCHA end-of-season playoffs. Western Michigan is in a similar situation, facing-off against Northern Michigan, which could decide home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.