Falcons Make Buckeyes Icers Into Prey

The Bowling Green hockey team boasts a number of players who have been able to bury the puck this season, and those players came to play Friday night in Value City Arena. Derek Whitmore and Jacob Cepis had two goals apiece to lead the Falcons over Ohio State 5-2 and leave Buckeye head coach John Markell in ill humor.

To the 5,002 fans in attendance in Value City Arena Friday night, Bowling Green's 5-2 victory over the Ohio State men's hockey team was just that. To the opposing head coaches, the game was open for as much interpretation as a Picasso painting.

Take the reaction of the winning head coach, BG's Scott Paluch.

"In our estimation it was an extremely even-played hockey game throughout," Paluch said. "They had scoring chances, we had scoring chances, and the difference in the game was we were able to finish a few off."

Then there was the opposing head coach, John Markell, who had a higher opinion of his alma mater and a lesser one of his own Buckeye squad.

"No, they outplayed us in every phrase of the game," an obviously upset Markell said after the contest. "First 10 minutes, I thought we played very well. I thought it was going to be a change, but the minute they scored a goal, we weren't the same team."

Derek Whitmore and Jacob Cepis scored twice apiece for the Falcons, who never trailed on the way to boosting their record to 13-12 and 10-9 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. Markell's Buckeyes fell to 8-19-2 overall, 4-14-1 in the league and 1-9 in league games played in Value City Arena.

After a chaotic start – OSU's Tommy Goebel couldn't sneak a rebound through traffic and Buckeye Chris Reed broke up a dangerous centering pass for Todd McIlrath, all within the first 30 seconds – the teams settled into a back-and-forth, high-tempo in which a number of loose pucks and goal-mouth passes seemed fraught with danger only to be brushed aside at the last moment.

Finally, Whitmore, who entered the game tied for second in the nation in goals per game, got the Falcons on the board first, sublimely redirecting Mike Nesdill's off-target slap shot behind Buckeye goaltender Dustin Carlson 13:01 into play.

Then, the Buckeyes' Achilles heal – goals allowed late in a period – made an ugly reoccurrence. First, BG's Kai Kantola scored with 41.0 seconds remaining in the first period by expertly deflecting Michael Hodgson's shot past Carlson. Then in the second, after OSU's Nick Biondo pulled the Buckeyes back with one, Cepis took a pass at the blue line, used a burst of speed to get behind OSU players Reed and Peter Boyd and beat Carlson to the blocker.

"I thought for us to get that third goal back late in the second period after they had closed within one … I thought that was key," Paluch said.

Cepis eliminated any doubt remaining just 49 seconds into the third when he dispossessed Shane Sims and, alone again, beat Carlson, this time for the 12th goal of his freshman campaign.

"They use the term in basketball a lot, create your own offense," Paluch said. "He can do that from kind of a standstill."

The rest of the third, despite 15 Ohio State shots and 13 BG tries, was largely ceremonial until Corey Toy scored with 3:26 remaining by beating Falcon netminder Nick Eno over the shoulder for the second goal of his career and second marker in as many games.

Whitmore added an empty-net goal with 26.3 seconds remaining to reach 21 markers on the year.

OSU's earlier goal, off the stick of Biondo, came after Tom Fritsche fed the junior in the slot during a period of 4-on-4 action. Biondo held the puck for a moment before firing the puck over Eno's right shoulder.

Perhaps the loudest cheer of the game came when the matching penalties leading to the 4-on-4 were earned. After Hodgson took liberties on Ohio State senior Kyle Hood, who was lying in the crease, assistant referee Brian Frerichs wrestled Hodgson to the ground in a takedown that would have earned him points had he been at an OSU wrestling meet.

Despite the fact that Ohio State finished with 41 shots to Bowling Green's 37, Markell was left unimpressed by his team's attempts to create offense.

"I told them, why even come to the rink," Markell said. "You have to figure out a way to work hard at this point in the season. You saw the push in the last three or four minutes – (that was) because they decided they were going to get it deep. First 10 minutes, gonna get it deep. That's all (BG) did on our defense. But we can't be that emotionally fragile. That young business is getting old."

The teams rematch their in-state rivalry Saturday night at 7:05 p.m.

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