BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The BGSU Ice Arena looked like a construction site Friday, as the Falcons of Bowling Green possibly built a foundation for a run at the CCHA Tournament.
The Falcons shut out their coach Buddy Powers’ old squad, No. 13 Rensselaer, 4-0, in a non-conference game that nonetheless, Bowling Green hopes will get it back on the right track. After suffering two consecutive losses last weekend to Nebraska-Omaha, the Falcons found themselves one point out of a tournament position with 12 conference games to play.
“It is nice to get four goals,” Powers said. “Tyler Masters got a shutout and is feeling good. Curtis Valentine is scoring again, which is also good. Right now we are playing like we are in the playoffs right now because it is life or death for us.”
The Falcons started their night with sophomore Tyler Knight sliding the puck to Valentine, who roofed a wrist shot past 6-foot-4-inch Engineer goalie Kevin Kurk, 15:50 into the first period.
The second period, though, showed why Rensselaer coach recruited two 6-4 goaltenders (Nathan Marsters is the other) as Kurk, using his size to his advantage, made 17 saves in the scoreless second period.
As the teams came out for the final period, however, the face of the game changed.
Falcons leading goal scorer Greg Day found a loose puck in front of the Engineer cage and put it by Kurk, who was helpless on the ice. That got the wheels in motion.
“For me it was just basically a garbage goal.” Day said. “I found the loose puck and just threw it at the net.”
Just 3:18 later, rookie forward Roger Leonard notched his third goal of the year when he sent a hard wrist shot at the Rensselaer goal while being covered by an Engineer defenseman. The puck would ring off the top right corner of the post and go in, giving the Falcons a 3-0 advantage.
The final goal of the night was credited to Valentine, who found a rebound that was left by Kurk and shot it over his shoulder. The goal gave the power-play units something to cheer about; they went 0-for-8 until Valentine’s second of the game.
The offense being created was evident by the 40 shots on goal Bowling Green (7-12-4) accumulated. That had been done only one other time this season, in a 2-1 loss on Nov. 3 at Northern Michigan.
“We fired the puck from everywhere tonight,” Day said. “With the goaltender being so big, and the butterfly style that he used, we needed to shoot the puck high, which is were the puck went when we got our goals.”
The player left in the dark by the offensive production was Falcon goaltender Tyler Masters. Masters only needed to save 20 Rensselaer (11-7-1) shots to record his second shutout of the season.
“It was weird out there tonight,” Masters said. “The play seemed to be moving really slow. With Louis Mass out, who is one of our best defensemen, tonight was a group effort by the blue liners. If one guy would make a mistake, their partner would cover for them … and the young guys played well also.”
With his second of the season — his first coming in a 5-0 win against Princeton on Jan. 6 — Masters ties the school record for most shutouts in one season.