BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — With only two weekends left in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association season every point is critical to set the seeds going into the conference tournament. While the Falcons are trying to improve their seeding to avoid facing one of the league’s top teams in post-season play, the Wildcats are trying to secure home ice in the first round.
Tonight, two valuable points were earned by third-place Northern Michigan, as the Wildcats beat host Bowling Green 4-1.
The Falcons now sit in the 11th spot in the CCHA standings, needing three points to surpass 10th- place Miami.
The Falcons came out with a flurry of shots in the first five minutes of play but Northern Michigan goaltender Craig Kowalski was up to the task, making nine saves in the opening period.
The stellar goaltending put the focus of the game onto Northern Michigan’s explosive offense. With less than five minutes gone in the contest, Wildcat right winger Terry Harrison skated into the Falcon zone and launched a shot at BGSU goaltender Tyler Masters. The rebound went right back to Harrison, who then faked a shot and went around the Falcon net to slide the puck into the opposite side for the game’s first goal nearly four-and-a-half minutes in. The goal was Harrison’s second of the season.
Northern Michigan added another first-period goal by Justin Kinnunen from Chris Gobert to make it 2-0 after one.
“It always helps to get some goals early,” Northern Michigan head coach Rick Comley said. “We got some goals from a lot of people that haven’t been getting them, so that was good.”
The Falcons got a boost in the second period when Greg Day scored on a penalty shot.
BG defender Dennis White drew NMU netminder out of the net when White was vying for the puck behind the cage. Kowalski, having left the net wide open, tried to regain position, but knocked the net off its moorings. Referee Bill Waisanen awarded the penalty shot.
Day, the Falcons’ leading scorer, did not disappoint. “I was thinking glove but he never really gave me that option,” said Day. “I did almost the same move that I did against him before when I was on a breakaway earlier this year at Northern. I just flipped it up over his leg and it worked.”
The goal at the 3:43 mark of the second period gave the Falcons a brief boost and cut the Northern lead to 2-1, but Dan Donnette answered eight minutes later to make it a 3-1 game.
Mike Stutzel capped the game with an empty-net goal with 25 seconds left in the third.
“They are just a really good hockey team,” BG head coach Buddy Powers said. “They just play good, old-fashioned, five-on-five hockey.”
The Wildcats and Falcons meet again Saturday night in Bowling Green.