Chris Nell provided Bowling Green with its second straight quality game in goal.
The sophomore stopped 25 shots Saturday to help the 16th-ranked Falcons to a 2-0 victory over Ohio State in the Ice Arena.
Nell’s goaltending and third-period goals from Mark Cooper and Matt Pohlkamp enabled the Falcons to survive when OSU carried most of the play during the first two periods.
But Cooper scored from the right circle with 9:55 remaining and Pohlkamp doubled the lead with 2:10 to play.
Moments after Cooper scored, Nell stopped OSU’s Nick Schilkey on a breakaway with a glove save. Schilkey scored twice Friday, giving him 25 career goals.
Nell posted the fourth shutout of his career. He stopped 12 shots in the first period and added five saves in the second period.
The Falcons, though, finished with a 30-25 edge in shots on goal. The game was played before an enthusiastic crowd of 3,022.
The win gave BG a sweep of the series after the Falcons posted a 6-3 win at OSU on Friday.
“If it wasn’t for Chris Nell, it would have been different,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said. “He played very well. He looked on top of it from the beginning.
“Chris is a quiet guy and kind of a soft spoken guy, but there’s a fire in him. You could see that. He was at the bench cheering guys on. He was tapping gloves when we left the ice for the second period.”
The Falcons played well during most of Friday’s win, but weren’t as sharp during Game 2. The Buckeyes, who made wholesale lineup changes for the rematch, played well and came at the Falcons hard.
“It was one of those nights, but a win is a win for me and our program,” Bergeron said. “We worry about the process, and we focus on the process, and we let the results take care of themselves, but we want results.
“To get the result, to find a way, in the situation where it maybe wasn’t our night, we’ll take the result all day.”
Nell played well after Tommy Burke was sharp in goal Friday with 27 saves, but he was tested far fewer times than Nell.
Nell saw his first action of the season. He didn’t play in BG’s Oct. 3 exhibition against the University of Toronto after he was cited last spring by city police for open container and underage possession of alcohol.
“You always want to get that preseason game to get your legs and feel the puck, and (get) back into a game rhythm,” Nell said. “I just used practice as a way to get my legs back under me and battle hard in practice. It was tough not having that.”
Nell played well as a freshman, posting a 2.32 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in 13 games.
“I think it bothered him he didn’t play last Saturday because he knew he deserved to play,” Bergeron added. “We wanted to get him in the net because he deserved to be in the net. He looked on top of it from the beginning.”
SCORING: Cooper’s centering pass from the right circle deflected in through the pads of OSU goalie Matt Tomkins after hitting the skate of a Buckeye defender in front.
Murphy won a battle for the puck in BG’s defensive zone to set up Cooper’s 2-on-1 rush. Murphy then drove hard to the net as Cooper skated into the OSU zone.
“I tried to hit his stick,” Cooper said of the play with Murphy. “To that point, the bounces weren’t going our way, so it was nice to get a bounce. That got our team rolling. We had some momentum leading to that goal and we picked it up after that.”
Pohlkamp scored off the rush, sending a rocket from the right circle into the top, right corner of the net to finish a 3 on 1 break. Sean Walker assisted on the goal.
Cooper and Pohlkamp also scored in Friday’s game.
Tomkins played well, stopping 28 shots.
“The first two periods, the first period especially, we were fighting it bad,” Bergeron said. “As the game went on, we created our chances. There wasn’t much consistency with the chances. We had big-time chances and their guy made some good saves.
“The third period, we played well,” Bergeron added. “The third period was our best third period for sure.”
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Falcons were 0 of 3 on the power play, while OSU was 0 of 6.
Both teams failed to score on a 5 on 3, BG for 1:06 late in the second period and OSU for 37 seconds in the third period with the Falcons holding a 1-0 lead.
PK: The Falcon penalty-killing is off to a strong start, going 8 of 9 in the series.
BG was second nationally last season at 89.8 percent.
“All in all, we executed,” Bergeron said of the penalty-killing.
PP: The BG power play was 0 of 5 in the series.
PENALTIES: Bergeron wasn’t pleased with his team’s six penalties Saturday. BG had just three penalties Friday.
“I don’t love six penalties,” Bergeron said. “I don’t think it was undisciplined, but I don’t like six penalties. We’ll have to find a way to play hard and not take six penalties.”
BLOCKS: In addition to Nell’s 25 saves, the Falcons blocked 14 of OSU’s 48 total shot attempts in the game.
“It seemed like every shot we (faced), at least three were blocked,” Nell said. “That’s the game we were playing. We battled in the defensive zone. We collapsed (around the net) and blocked shots. We played good team defense.”