BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Friday’s contest between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Bowling Green Falcons symbols a beginning of the end of sorts as the game marked the start of their final year in the CCHA as the conference will disband at the end of the season.
The two remaining charter members of the CCHA battled Friday evening at BGSU Ice Arena and the Buckeyes prevailed in a hard-fought 1-0 win over the Falcons.
The win marked the first time the Buckeyes started the conference slate 1-0 since 2006.
Bowling Green freshman goalie Tommy Burke got the nod over senior Andrew Hammond who is out with a hyper-extended elbow. He was opposed by crafty redshirt senior Brady Hjelle. The two locked into a strong goaltenders duel as Hjelle stopped all 25 shots he faced, whereas Burke stopped all but one of the 28 shots he faced.
“Bounce back effort now… solidified how he needs to play,” Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki said about Hjelle.
“I thought either guy played solid,” Bowling Green coach Chris Bergeron said. “The way Tommy played, we’re still trying to see what we have in him. Obviously, we knew it was going to come to six or seven plays and we found ourselves on the negative side on one for sure.”
Buckeyes’ forward Ryan Dzingel scored the game’s lone goal 8:33 into the first. He took a shot off the faceoff and fired a wrister past Burke that blasted the post before going into the net. Ohio State’s 1-0 lead held into the first intermission.
“The faceoff got tied up, [Tanner] Fritz got the draw and I just ran forward and coaches have been stressing at taking shots all year,” Dzingel said.
Dzingel appeared to have scored just six seconds into the game as he took his own rebound and put the puck past Burke. However, the referees lost sight of the puck and blew the play dead as the puck entered the net.
“You can’t left the refs affect you,” Dzingel said. “Those are the things you can’t control. It doesn’t matter what I think, we just came out strong after that and played well.”
Osiecki was pleased with how Dzingel gave the Buckeyes huge minutes throughout Friday’s game.
“He’s coming, he’s getting better,” Osiecki said. “He’s gaining more confidence, he’s getting more speed. He has tremendous skill, he’s starting to come.”
Both the goal and the waved-off goal bothered Bergeron as it showed his team was not ready off the faceoff.
“Their intensity on the faceoffs was better than ours and they got rewarded on the faceoff goal,” Bergeron said. “They came out ready to start playing at 7:05, we didn’t, and from where I stood, that was a call that went in our favor. We’ll take that call, just weren’t able to take advantage.”
The Buckeyes’ 1-0 ledger hung on through the second period despite the Falcons outshooting the Buckeyes 10-5 in the game’s middle frame.
A quiet BGSU Ice Arena nearly came to life midway through the third period when Ryan Viselli hit the crossbar which many thought gave the Falcons the equalizer.
Hammond is unlikely to play as of now, but Bergeron said that status could change depending on tomorrow morning’s skate. Regardless, Burke has stepped in well in his stead.
“The guys have been playing well in front of me,” Burke said. “I think once we get some momentum and confidence, we’ll get some goals and some wins. To be honest, I am not surprised that I am playing well right away, the coaches brought me here for a reason.”
For the Buckeyes, Osiecki is sticking with his two-goalie rotation and giving freshman Collin Olson the nod between the pipes for Saturday’s contest.