BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University hockey team found itself trailing Ohio State 3-0 midway through the second period of its home opener Tuesday.
Believe it or not, Falcons coach Chris Bergeron told his team to keep doing what it was doing.
PHOTO GALLERY: Falcons rally to win over Buckeyes
“The message at 3-0 was that we were playing better than the score indicated — stay with the process,” he said. “We try to focus on the process with our team, not the result, and our process wasn’t that bad.
“The resiliency piece and the fight piece is something we think we’ve developed. We’d rather not get down three goals if we can avoid that, but that was in the cards.”
Fortunately for the Falcons, a stirring comeback also was in the cards. Bowling Green scored twice in the second period, then netted a pair of goals 23 seconds apart early in third to complete a 4-3 win over the Buckeyes.
Bowling Green evened its record at 1-1-1 for the season with its first regulation win over OSU since Feb. 1, 2008. Ohio State, which came into the game with a 12-1-3 record against the Falcons over the last 16 meetings of the two teams, fell to 0-3.
The only goal of the first period was scored by the Buckeyes – and it was a fluky goal in that the puck bounced crazily off the boards past BG goalie Tommy Burke to Ohio State’s Nick Schilkey, who swept it into the open net.
The Buckeyes scored twice in the first 10 minutes of the second period, but after that Burke stoned OSU. He finished with 25 saves, including 11 in the final period.
“It wasn’t like I was doubting myself,” Burke said after the three-goal barrage. “My thought was there was still 30 minutes to play, so let’s shut the door from here.
“Our defense and forwards made some big blocks. There were a couple of cheesy goals in there, so that shows how well we actually played.”
Bowling Green had a potential goal wiped out by a penalty shortly after the Buckeyes’ third goal, but that didn’t seem to deter the Falcons.
“If you go down 4-0, it’s over — and we were short-handed,” Bergeron said. “But the penalty kill showed some intensity and drew a penalty so we could go four-on-four, and Bryce Williamson can do some damage four-on-four. And he did.”
Williamson took advantage of an Ohio State turnover to collect the puck in the neutral zone, and he beat Buckeyes goalie Matt Tomkins with a wrist shot to get the Falcons on the board at 11:58 of the period.
“After the first goal, we felt we were back in it,” said forward Ben Murphy. “I don’t think anybody on our team had doubts.
“When you get a bounce like that on our first goal, then you’re rolling. You feed off that, and the scoring is contagious.”
The Falcons cut the deficit to a single goal with a power-play tally late in the second period. Williamson corralled the puck behind the net and fed Murphy in front, with Murphy stuffing it past Tomkins at 17:52.
Bowling Green then scored twice in a 23-second span early in the third period to turn a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead. Defenseman Connor Kucera tied the game when he beat Tompkins with a shot from a tough angle deep in the right corner at 3:07 of the period.
Then the Falcons forced an Ohio State penalty, and on the ensuing draw Murphy pulled the puck back to Ralfs Freibergs, then stormed the net. He took a pass from Freibergs and pushed the puck past Tompkins at 3:30 of the period.
From there it was up to the Falcons’ penalty kill. After giving up six power-play goals in two games against Union College last weekend the BG penalty kill was up to the task, holding the Buckeyes off the scoreboard on three power-play attempts in the third period and allowing just one goal in eight tries for the game.
“We spent a lot of time on [killing penalties before the game], and I was really happy with it,” Bergeron said. “I think we were just better; there was more intensity [than against Union]. There were times this past weekend where the intensity wasn’t there.
“We didn’t win enough 50-50 pucks last week, and we won a ton of them [Tuesday].”
NOTES: The Falcons return to action this weekend when they host Colgate at the BG Ice Arena Friday and Saturday, with faceoff both nights set for 7:07 p.m. ... Murphy’s game-winner is believed to be the 7,000th goal in program history.