BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Probably the most important thing the Bowling Green Falcons needed going down the stretch was a trip back home.
But with Lake Superior State, Bowling Green and Notre Dame all fighting for the last CCHA tournament spot, the Falcons needed a win, and got it with Friday’s 4-2 victory over Western Michigan.
With the Broncos having three of the five top scorers in the CCHA, the focus of the game would be how well the Falcons could shut down Western Michigan prolific offense.
The game opened up with a hint of the Broncos’ power when junior Mike Bishai skated into the Falcon zone. Bishai moved the puck from forehand to backhand and slid it between BG goaltender Tyler Masters’ legs while falling down, scoring 2:34 into the game.
Soon after Bishai’s goal, though, the powerful Bronco offense was all but silenced as Falcon coach Buddy Powers utilized the last line change to its fullest potential. Almost every time the Bishai – Steve Rymsha – Dave Gove line was out on the ice, so too were Curtis Valentine, Tyler Knight, Dennis Williams, Kevin Bieksa and Doug Schueller.
“At home, when you have the last change, you can do different things like that,” Powers said. “When you have a team has three of the top five scorers in the league on it, you are going to have to keep a line on them. We wanted those five guys every time the Bishai line was out on the ice, in our scheme of things that was our idea for success.”
The idea worked as Scott Hewson matched Bishai with his seventh goal of the year at the 6:24 mark of the first period when he put a wrist shot past Bronco goaltender Jeff Reynaert.
The goal of the game for the Falcons came from the most unlikely man on the team. With Bishai controlling the puck just inside the blue line, Schueller came up and stole the puck from him. Once Schueller got control of the puck he headed toward Reynaert on a breakaway, and with Western Michigan’s speedy forwards catching up to him Schueller let the puck go and scored his second goal of the season.
Then the second-best power play in the conference went to work. Junior defenseman Marc Barlow squeezed the puck between the post and Reynaert’s arm after receiving the pass from Greg Day to score with 1:59 left in the second period.
“I saw Day going to the net with the puck so I stepped up,” Barlow recalled. “I got open and he gave me the puck and I shot. It went off Reynaert’s arm and went into the net.”
The Falcon power play struck again 6:44 into the third period as Ryan Murphy found a loose puck in front of the congested Bronco net and slid it in. Murphy now holds the Falcon lead in goals with 20.
Western Michigan got a power-play goal of their own at the 13:53 mark of the third when Rymsha found the puck after it caromed off the boards behind the Falcon net. Rymsha immediately shot the puck with Masters out of position to tie Gove and Jeff Campbell for the team lead in goals with 21.
“When you score four goals and keep a team to two goals you win a lot of hockey games,” Power said. “We got good goaltending, good team defense and balanced scoring.”
The Falcons, now on a six-game home winning streak, sit one point ahead of Lake Superior State for 10th place in the standings.