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Hockey splits weekend series with Buckeyes

If you had told the Falcon hockey players they would sweep 10th place Ohio State this weekend during two Central Collegiate Hockey Association games, most of them would have agreed.

If you had told them, however, that they would give up over 80 shots to split with the Buckeyes in Columbus – well, that might have been slightly less believable.

But that’s exactly what the Falcons (13-13-0, 10-10-0 CCHA) did at the Value City Arena against OSU (9-19-2, 5-14-2), winning 5-2 on Friday and losing 4-2 on Saturday.

Freshman goalie Nick Eno made 79 total saves in trying to get his team over .500 permanently, but could not completely stop OSU’s third period barrage on Saturday.

Eno did stop 25 first and second period shots on Friday to let his team grab a 3-1 lead over the Buckeyes. Derek Whitmore opened the scoring for the Falcons at 13:01 of the first on assists from Mike Nesdill and Todd McIlrath.

Kai Kantola would build the lead to 2-0 six minutes and 18 seconds later with helpers by Jake Cepis and Michael Hodgson. Hodgson would earn his first point of the year on the play.

Once Cepis registered his first point of the night, the game turned into a battle of the Parma boys.

Nick Biondo, a junior from Parma and Cepis’ former teammate on the Cleveland Barons, cut the Falcons’ lead to 2-1 with a shot from the slot in front of Eno at 15:19 of the second period.

Cepis answered back three minutes later, and again 49 seconds into the third period to give BG a 4-1 lead. Kyle Reed and Tommy Goebel, OSU’s leading scorer from Parma, assisted Corey Toy with three and a half minutes remaining in the game to cut it to 4-2.

Tri-captain Whitmore, who had opened the scoring, would close it off at 5-2 via an empty netter with 27 seconds remaining.

The big negative from Friday’s game, though, was that BG once again failed to tally a power play goal, going 0-for-6 on the night.

‘Consistency, shift-to-shift, every night [on the power play] is something I think we’ve had every night for a majority of the season,’ BG coach Scott Paluch said. ‘But we want to be consistent on all of our shifts, every night.’

The Falcons failed to be consistent on the power play again on Saturday night, and the Buckeyes made them pay for several missed opportunities.

In an interview last week, Tommy Goebel noted several facets of the Falcons’ game that his team planned to look for.

‘We’re going to respect them,’ Goebel said. ‘We heard they have a great power play, and obviously Cepis and Whitmore are big players for them.’

Goebel’s scouting report must have been partially outdated.

BG’s power play failed to convert on five more power play opportunities on Saturday, continuing an 0-for-37 man-advantage streak that now spans three complete weekends.

Biondo scored the all-important first goal of the game on Saturday at 4:33 of the first, but James Perkin of the Falcons would tie it at one five minutes and four seconds later.

Tomas Petruska scored his third goal of the season three minutes into the second to put BG up 2-1 for their only lead of the game. But another Tom, Tommy Goebels, scored the fifth Parma goal of the weekend late in the second to tie the game again.

That’s when Peter Boyd, a freshman from New Brunswick, figured his team would get their fifth conference win of the season against the Falcons. He made it happen with two third period goals at 15:39 and 17:49, and effectively stopped BG’s bid for fifth place in the CCHA.

Had Nick Eno managed to stop two more of those 44 shots, or if another BG skater could have put another puck past Buckeye goalie Joseph Palmer, the Falcons could have surpassed Nebraska-Omaha in the CCHA standings.

As it is, BG remains one point back of the Mavericks who split a big series with Michigan State this weekend. Next weekend Nebraska-Omaha hosts Ohio State, while BG faces off in two home games against Alaska.

‘It’s an even slate in terms of the position of the teams,’ Paluch said. ‘Everything lies in our favor in that we have an opportunity. We were in sixth place when we started talking about it and we remain in sixth place.

‘We want to keep earning points every weekend and move up as high as we can.’

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