In a perfect world, Mike Falk would score the game-winning goal in front of his family, friends and teammates and coach from last season. It would also be fitting if he did it at Joe Louis Arena, where every kid in Michigan dreams of scoring a goal.
It wasn’t a perfect game, but in Falk’s eyes, Utopia was achieved Tuesday night in downtown Detroit.
In front of 1,151 fans at Joe Louis Arena, Bowling Green (6-15-2, 3-12-2 CCHA) eked out a 4-3 win over hometown Wayne State (9-12-1, 2-3-1 CHA). Falk’s goal with 12.8 seconds left in the third period won it for the Falcons.
Bowling Green had won just two of its last 10 games. Those wins came in a sweep of Northern Michigan on Jan. 10-11.
“My team from last year [Detroit Compuware Jr. A] was all here so I had to show off for them,” said a smiling Falk after the game. “I was ecstatic to score the goal, but I’m just as happy to get the win. We’ve struggled lately.”
Marc Fakler, Wayne State’s volunteer coach, was an assistant coach for Compuware last year as it won the North American Hockey League’s Robertson Cup and also the Gold Cup National Championship.
The Warriors started the scoring just 3:58 in. Playing a man down, Brent Renfrew poked in a rebound of a Steve Nichols shot for the early 1-0 lead. Tyler Kindle started the rush that turned into a broken 3-on-2. Nichols’ shot was stopped by BGSU netminder Jordan Sigalet, but Renfrew crashed the net and jabbed in the loose puck for his first goal this season.
Kevin Bieksa evened the game at 10:25 with a shorthanded goal of his own. Kindle’s clearing attempt went awry and Bieksa gathered the puck at the top of the circle, danced around Kindle and then went top-shelf on WSU goalie David Guerrera.
Dusty Kingston regained the lead for WSU with a power-play goal at 13:53. Kingston camped out to Sigalet’s left and re-directed a pass from the point from co-captain Keith Stanich for a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.
“Sigalet was the reason it was only 2-1 after the first,” said Falcons head coach Scott Paluch. “He made some great saves and really kept us in it. We dodged a few bullets early and we did exactly what we needed to do in the second and third to win this game.”
The second period went scoreless before a three-goal explosion by Bowling Green in the final period.
Guerrera made a huge save on a point-blank shot from Tyler Knight early in the period and on the ensuing rush, Bowling Green defenseman Don Morrison shot the puck into his own net trying to clear the puck to the boards. Jack Redwood was given credit for the power-play goal as it was his initial shot that Sigalet stopped.
“I didn’t get down on Morrison for that,” said Paluch. “It happens all the time.”
Knight redeemed himself later in the period. First, he deflected a pass from Mark Wires past Guerrera at 6:35 and then finished a 4-on-1 break for an easy one-timer at 16:23.
Rosychuk had a chance to take the lead with a breakaway a little over a minute later, but Sigalet stood his ground and stopped him cold.
That set the stage for Falk’s heroics.
“It’s our bread and butter play,” Paluch said. “We try to get a puck on net and send guys in to get a rebound. That’s exactly what happened.”
“Ninety percent of the goals in college hockey are scored from in front of the goalie,” added Falk. “Coach calls it ‘Bloody Nose Alley.’”
This was the second straight game at Joe Louis that Wayne State has lost in the final period. Back on Dec. 14, Notre Dame got a goal from Connor Dunlop with just over four minutes left.
“We’ve got 14 games left to see what this team is made of,” said Wayne State head coach Bill Wilkinson. “We didn’t play with any intelligence after the first period. We took needless penalties and that gave Bowling Green all the momentum they needed. Guerrera made some great saves to keep us in it, but right now we’re thinking more about ourselves and not the team.
“It’s wake-up call time and if we’re going to be a championship team, we must be better disciplined and play with more intensity. We’re supposed to be building momentum heading towards the end of the season, but we’re going in the opposite direction.”
Wayne State gets back to it this weekend with a home-and-home set against College Hockey America foe Findlay. Friday’s game is at the Compuware Sports Arena in Plymouth while Saturday’s is in northern Ohio. Bowling Green is idle this weekend before venturing to Nebraska-Omaha for two CCHA games Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.