BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Saturday night at the BGSU Ice Arena, the goal-scoring Grinch left the Bowling Green locker room as the Falcons got an early Christmas present: a five-goal victory.
The Falcons’ 7-2 win over the Mavericks of Nebraska-Omaha started in a most unusual way. Bowling Green freshman Erik Eaton found a loose puck in front of UNO goaltender Dan Ellis but was unable to get a good shot on the netminder with a defenseman covering him. The best Eaton could do was to flip the puck in the air, which turned into a good move, as the puck went off a Nebraska-Omaha defender and into the net.
“We got a fluke goal to start it off,” BG coach Buddy Powers said. “I never saw it, but the puck bounced off one of their guys and went top-shelf. So there you are off to a good start. Then on the power play [we] threw the puck out front and jammed it in.
“There’s nothing like scoring goals to make you feel better.”
The Falcons came back with their first power-play goal of the night. With Daniel Samuelsson in the penalty box for the Mavericks, freshman D’Arcy McConvey helped Scott Hewson get his third goal of the season with 31 seconds left in the first period.
Bowling Green’s leading goal-scorer, Greg Day, tallied his 10th of the season at the 3:19 mark of the second period when he took a slapshot just from inside the blue line that beat Ellis to score the second BG power-play goal of the game. Ryan Fultz and Brian Escobedo were credited with the assists.
The Mavericks got another tally in the second with Falcons Austin de Luis and Kevin Bieska in the penalty box. UNO capitalized on the 5-on-3 chance, with James Chalmers finding a rebound in front of BG goaltender Tyler Masters and putting it by the sophomore 5:51 in.
The Falcons answered with their fourth goal of the night 11:34 into the second after McConvey and Hewson had their two-on-one broken up by the Maverick defense. Hewson found the puck and dropped it to the trailer, Ryan Murphy, who shot it into the open net.
The second period ended with Day putting in a rebound after an Escobedo shot with 1:22 left, leaving Maverick coach Mike Kemp to replace Ellis with Rodney McLeod.
BG’s sixth goal and third on the power play started with Roger Lenoard driving hard to the net where McLeod pokechecked the puck away from the freshman and toward de Luis, who shot the puck into the open net.
The Mavericks’ last goal of the night came from a Mike Gabinet slapshot from the right faceoff circle with 2:46 left in the game.
Kevin Bieksa put the icing on the BG victory cake with his first collegiate goal with 44 seconds left in the game.
“We absolutely had to get two points tonight to creep back into the middle of the pack,” BG senior Curtis Valentine said. “No points this weekend would have been a disaster, because we would have been right down in the bottom, and we would be in a dogfight for the rest of the year. The two points gives us some confidence and shows what happens when you play hard, and should set a nice tone for the second half of the year.”
All of the BG freshmen saw ice time as head coach Buddy Powers decided to sit regulars Tyler Knight, Dennis Williams and Marc Barlow to shake up the team.
“We made a decision last night that we were going to make a pretty radical change in the lineup,” Powers said. “We turned all of the freshmen loose and they played pretty hard. I think the changes are from responsibility and accountability from the players, and the fact is that in the situation that we were in, we were not winning.”
The Falcons improve to 3-9-4 before going on Christmas break, while the Mavericks fall to 8-9-1 and will go home to face Notre Dame on Dec. 19-20.