BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — It must have felt like a 65-minute penalty kill for Bowling Green on Friday night.
BGSU skated with just nine forwards and five defensemen against Alaska-Fairbanks on Friday night, but handled a difficult situation well as the Falcons (3-12-2, 1-9-2 CCHA) tied the Nanooks, 3-3 at the BG Ice Arena.
“Our team gave a tremendous effort tonight,” said BG coach Scott Paluch. “We were short a few guys, but we expected Falcon hockey out of the guys that were ready to play and that were eligible.”
Seven players received disciplinary action for violating team rules during the Dodge Holiday Classic in Minneapolis last weekend. Sophomore forwards Kip Horner and Colen Pappas were dismissed from the team following a violation of team rules, and suspended for Friday night’s game were Forwards Eric Eaton, Brandon Piersol, Roger Leonard, Ryan Minnabarriet, and Mike Falk.
“You always like to have the benefit of all your players, but we have a standard of discipline that we follow,” said Paluch.
Even though the Falcons were skating shorthanded, they kept up a high level of intensity for the entire game.
“The core of what we do is to be aggressive,” continued Paluch. “We finish our checks and create loose pucks.”
After a layoff of nearly a month, some may have expected the Nanooks to be a little rusty, but coach Guy Gadowsky was happy with what he saw, especially after center Blaine Bablitz knotted the game at 3 with a late third-period goal.
“We didn’t quite click, didn’t quite execute,” said Gadowsky. “but I’m not very disappointed. We got a great goal at the end to salvage one point.”
The Nanooks looked as if they would extend their four-game winning streak early. Fairbanks got on the board first as Cam Keith blistered a shot past BG goalie Jordan Sigalet from the right circle to give the Nanooks a 1-0 lead just 3:31 into the game. Cramer Hickey and Blaine Bablitz notched the assists.
BG tied the game just over six minutes later on Alex Rogosheske’s first career goal from between the circles. Sophomore Ben Assenmacher and Ryan Barnett assisted.
The Falcons jumped out to a 2-1 lead just over two minutes later. Brett Pilkington stuffed a shot through the five-hole of Lance Mayes. Kevin Bieksa and Tyler Knight had the assists.
Both teams traded goals in the second. Assenmacher gave BG a 3-1 lead 4:13 into the period as he took a pass from Chris Pedota and beat Mayes over the shoulder for his 1st career goal. BG’s third line was responsible for two of BG’s goals.
“We get in a situation where players get opportunities,” said Paluch. “Ben centering that third line was a great lift.”
A few minutes later, Falcon Ryan Barnett skated off the ice after being hit in the ear with a puck, not to return. Barnett’s injury brought the Falcons down to 13 skaters, which is where they remained for the rest of the night.
The Nanooks cut the lead to 3-2 just 45 seconds later when Ryan Campbell slid the puck past Sigalet in a crowd for the goal. Jared Sylvestre and Jason Grinevitch added the assists. For Campbell, it was his eighth marker of the season.
The Nanooks tied the game late in the third after pulling goalie Lance Mayes for the extra attacker. Bablitz picked up his sixth goal of the season on a rebound off of Kelly Czuy’s shot. Czuy and Alex Staudt tallied the assists.
The Nanooks outshot Bowling Green 46-36 in the game. Both teams finished 0-3 on the power play.
The teams will face off again Saturday night in the final game of the series. Game time is 7 p.m.