BOWLING GREEN - Opening the season with two of its first three games against teams ranked in the top five in the country, the Bowling Green State University hockey team knew that for a while, it might have to look for positives other than wins.
In the Falcons' last game, Saturday against then-No. 5 Boston College, they found they could erase a large deficit, climbing back from down 6-2 to tie the score before losing 9-6.
Hosting No. 2 Ohio State in the BGSU Ice Arena last night, the Falcons learned a little more about Jimmy Spratt, their freshman goalie. BGSU lost 7-2, but it was not on Spratt's miscues, which troubled him in the Boston College game to the point of getting taken out.
Although Spratt's goals-against average isn't too hot in his first few games, BGSU coach Scott Paluch said he showed improvement. Spratt had 22 saves.
"Jimmy made the saves he needed to make," Paluch said. "He made the saves he could see, it was just a lot of back-door goals in transition. You've got to be able to give the goalie a chance."
The next thing BGSU needs is 60 minutes of confidence against these quicker, deeper teams. The Falcons will have another chance at 7:05 tonight when the teams face off again at Value City Arena in Columbus.
"Right now, we're searching for that game confidence. I think that's a big part of the game to have," Paluch said.
Five Buckeyes scored, with sophomore Tom Fritsche leading the way with two goals and an assist. It was the Falcons' 10th consecutive loss to OSU. The Buckeyes were the preseason pick to win the Central Collegiate Hockey Association championship after winning the conference title last season.
In both teams' CCHA opener, the Buckeyes were effective penalty-killers, giving up just two goals in the Falcons' eight man-up opportunities.
"We knew they have a good power play, so we had to stay disciplined and keep working," said OSU senior Rod Pelley, who had a goal and an assist.
OSU (2-1-0, 1-0-0 CCHA) scored first 3:14 into the first period, with nine seconds left in its first power play. The Falcons seemed to regroup initially, but then gave up two goals in the span of a minute midway through the period. On the first score, the Buckeyes were shorthanded.
"We scored some timely goals; that's what you need," said OSU coach John Markell, a three-time All-CCHA player at BGSU in the late 1970s. "You've got to respect a road win in the CCHA."
The Falcons (0-3-0, 0-1-0) gained some momentum back early in the second period when James Unger scored a power-play goal on assists from Alex Foster and Jonathan Matsumoto.
Late in the second period, Matsumoto scored his fourth goal of the season on a rebound when the Falcons had a two-man advantage.
BGSU seemed to improve in the second period with five more shots on goal (11) than in the first, but it was irrelevant as the Buckeyes scored twice more, one on a power play.
The Buckeyes added two more goals in the third, the final by Andrew Schembri on a 3-on-1 break.
"Their transition was too quick for us tonight," Paluch said. "Our mistakes and their transition was a key to tonight's game. We just gave them too many odd-man rushes in key times."
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