Hockey is always a game of momentum shifts, and when Ohio State faced Bowling Green on Tuesday night, the one that changed the game happened with 8:25 to go in the second period and OSU holding a 3-0 lead and on the power play.
At that time, OSU forward Max McCormick took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the whistle, negating the Buckeye power play. Twenty-one seconds later, Bowling Green scored 4-on-4, and suddenly, it was a different game.
By the end, the Falcons would ride that momentum swing to a 4-3 victory in front of 2,752 raucous fans in the BGSU Ice Arena, dropping OSU to 0-3 in the Steve Rohlik era.
“My big thing was we go up 3-0 and we’re on a power play and we take a penalty and the whole momentum changed on that,” the head coach said. “From that point, we take a few more penalties and they got their chances and they scored. I think that was the difference.
“We felt like we were in a good position there. We know it’s a tough building. They play hard. Give them credit. They just hung in there and then they got their chances on the power play and got the game close and a couple goals there at the end (were the difference).”
The Buckeyes are now 0-for-Ohio, having dropped both ends of a home-and-home season-opening set vs. then-No. 2 and new national No. 1 Miami last weekend. The Falcons and Buckeyes will rematch on Oct. 29 in Columbus, with OSU playing next Oct. 25-26 with a home-and-home vs. Robert Morris.
“We gotta be better. We gotta be disciplined. We have some time off here to bounce back,” Rohlik said. “I think our guys have to get away a couple of days – we’re trying to cram a lot in here in a short period of time – get away, get refocused and we just have to get back to the little things as we prepare for Robert Morris. We don’t have to change much, we just have to get back to our style of disciplined hockey.”
Nick Schilkey scored his first career goal for the Buckeyes, while Justin DaSilva and Darik Angeli tallied as well as the Scarlet and Gray built a 3-0 lead. But Ben Murphy had two goals for the Falcons, including the game winner early in the third.
The Buckeyes also lost junior Tanner Fritz, last year’s team leader in assists and a potential All-Big Ten pick, to an upper-body injury early in the contest. Rohlik said he is unsure of how long Fritz will be out for OSU.
It was an even game throughout, but the opportunistic Buckeyes built their three-goal lead through the opening half of the contest. Schilkey got Ohio State on the board at 17:19 of the first, as Anthony Greco’s power-play dump-in took an odd hop off the boards as Tommy Burke went behind the net to retrieve it, allowing Schilkey the easiest of tap-ins as he opened his account for the Buckeyes.
OSU pulled away early in the second, as DaSilva – trailing the play – drove home his second career goal at 2:21 off a nice feed from Alex Szczechura with the teams skating 4-on-4. At 10:03, Angeli skated up the left wing into the zone and beat Burke short side with a quick shot.
But Bryce Williamson got the Falcons on the board shortly after McCormick’s penalty canceled an OSU power play, beating freshman goalie Matt Tomkins to the blocker side moments after what appeared to be a first BG goal was ruled out for a delayed penalty.
Things truly started going BG’s way, though, with 17:52 left in the second when Ben Murphy deflected the puck by Tomkins from the right post on the power play with Angeli in the box for an interference call.
Another good break allowed the Falcons to tie the score at 3:07 of the third, as Connor Kucera centered the puck from the right corner only to see it deflect off Tomkins’ paraphernalia and trickle through the netminder’s wickets. It was hard to tell if the goal actually crossed the line, but the men in stripes decreed it so, and review was never going to give enough of a view to cancel out the tally.
In full possession of momentum at that point, the Falcons took their first and only lead just 23 seconds later. Al McLean went to the box for a tripping call at 3:21, and Murphy scored with a blast from the left point that hit the far post and went into the cage behind Tomkins.
OSU pushed to equalize from there but could not despite a few flurries late, including three straight third period power plays and 1:13 of empty-net time.
Notes: Tomkins had 24 saves for OSU in his second consecutive start. … Ohio State finished 1 for 8 on the power play, while BG was 2 for 6. … Freshman defenseman Drew Brevig got his first career assist on Angeli’s goal. … The teams combined for 24 minor penalties.