Series against ranked foes Michigan State, Ferris State, Alaska and Miami follow, so it was necessary for the Buckeyes to gain some momentum against the Falcons as they try to climb the league standings.
For the first weekend of 2010, then, mission accomplished. Ohio State finished off a two-game sweep of Bowling Green on Saturday night in the Value City Arena, taking a 3-0 lead and holding on for a 4-3 win in front of 4,590 fans to move into sixth place in the CCHA.
Zac Dalpe scored twice, C.J. Severyn and Devon Krogh had single tallies and Hunter Bishop had two assists for the Buckeyes (9-12-1, 7-8-1-1), who extended their winning streak against BG to seven games and moved to 2-0 in the BSB Ohio Cup standings.
"With a month off, you're not sure how you're going to come back from a break," Dalpe said. "It was good to get six points and be all smiles and regroup and go back at it Monday."
The Buckeyes were, in fact, all smiles after the game, laughing and joking thanks to their second sweep of the season. However, the final moments were no laughing matter as Bowling Green (3-17-2-2, 2-12-2-2) countered everything Ohio State had, outshooting the Buckeyes 11-6 in the final frame.
OSU goaltender Cal Heeter was game, making two excellent stops on BG's active career scoring leader Kai Kantola in the final moments to preserve the win. His diving stop on a rebound Kantola tried to bury with 1:08 was certainly the best of his 21 saves as he improved to 8-4-1 on the year.
"I thought the second period, we looked like a team that had not played in a month," OSU head coach John Markell said. "I thought in the third period we settled down and tried to protect a 3-2 lead and take our opportunities when we could. Certainly it was a big save there at the end."
The Buckeyes didn't look like they'd need a comeback early, taking a 2-0 lead into the first break after outshooting BG 9-3. Severyn opened the scoring 6:08 into the game after Bishop dispossessed Falcon captain Kyle Page in front of his own net. The puck went to Albert, who fed Severyn in the slot for a quick shot between the pads of Bowling Green netminder Andrew Hammond.
The lead doubled at 14:01 with the Buckeyes on the power play, as Krogh took a feed from Bishop at the center point and beat Hammond to the stick side with a slap shot for his third goal in six games and second in as many nights.
The second was firewagon hockey at times, and OSU struck first again on the power play at 4:50. Bishop got his third helper of the night, putting a slap shot off the end glass that rebounded to Matt Bartkowski next to the net, and the big defenseman's cross-crease feed allowed Dalpe the simplest of finishes at the right post.
"I was scoring a lot last night and I thought my (assist) category was pretty low," Bishop joked after scoring twice last night. "It was just one of those nights when guys were burying them when you were getting it to them."
"If you see him in practice, he's definitely not a passer," Dalpe quickly joked.
Dalpe's goal also gave the Buckeyes multiple power-play goals in consecutive games for the first time all year. Using a new umbrella look, the Buckeyes were 5 for 12 with the man-advantage on the weekend after struggling in the first half.
"All week we filmed it, watched it, filmed it, watched it," Markell said. "I think they're comfortable with that. Maybe BG hadn't seen that from us before because we hadn't done it before, but I think our guys feel good about it."
Bowling Green drew two back before the second intermission, though. Cameron Sinclair earned his first career goal at 6:42, scoring from the slot after a pass from down low, and Tomas Petruska's no-look backhander with Patrick Schafer draped all over him flew stunningly over Heeter's blocker at 14:42.
Dalpe smiled again at 6:36 of the third when he finished with a backhander over Hammond on a half-breakaway thanks to a pass from linemate Sergio Somma, but BG answered 29 seconds later when Josh Boyd expertly deflected Kantola's centering feed past Heeter.
Severyn hit the post with 1:35 to go, setting up the finale. Bowling Green had a power play for the final 1:08 and pulled Hammond – and added another advantage when a Buckeye broke his stick – but the tying goal never crossed the line.