BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The Bowling Green Falcons (3-4-2, 2-3-1 CCHA) ran their unbeaten streak to four games by downing the Purple Eagles of Niagara (2-4-0, 1-1 CHA), 4-2 at the BG Ice Arena on Friday night. The unbeaten streak is the longest for the Falcons since March of 2001.
“Both teams were counterpunching pretty well,” said Falcon head coach Scott Paluch of the back-and-forth game. “Both teams were taking advantage of mistakes.”
While the game was a see-saw affair, one constant for the Falcons was the penalty kill, which has not allowed a power play goal in the last four games, and has a 94% success rate on the season.
“We bent but didn’t break on the penalty kill,” said Paluch. “All through the year, we’ve been putting good pressure on the PK — getting sticks and bodies on the puck. We’re seven to eight penalty killers deep right now.”
Niagara coach Dave Burkholder was impressed with the penalty kill from both teams.
“Our power play unit had too many shots blocked from the point. [Bowling Green] was very aggressive. They did a great job on the kill, as we did. These were pretty evenly-matched teams. This was a good college hockey game.”
The Falcons drew first blood in the opening period. Center Brett Pilkington picked up his fourth goal of the season as he took a giveaway in the corner to the top of the circle and threaded the puck through traffic to beat Niagara netminder Rob Bonk for the 1-0 lead. For the Falcons, it was their first opening-period goal at home of the season.
Niagara got on the board just 49 seconds into the middle frame. Freshman Sean Bentivoglio scored his first career goal, taking a two-on-one feed from Barret Ehgoetz, and beating Jordan Sigalet for the 1-1 tie. Pat Oliveto also assisted on the play.
BG freshman Jonathon Sigalet got into the act at the 6:05 mark of the period, netting his first career goal, a shorthanded tally. Jon Sitko attempted a pass from in front of the crease which was initially blocked by a Purple Eagle defender. The loose puck went to Sigalet, who wheeled and slid the puck underneath Bonk for the 2-1 lead.
“Sitko tried to pass it but it got blocked. I just gave it a whack and it trickled through,” said Sigalet.
Niagara tied the game with just under eight minutes to play. Right winger Jeremy Hall beat the BG goalie over the shoulder with a wicked slapshot which banged off the crossbar and into the net. Ehgoetz and Oliveto assisted on the play.
The Falcons regained their lead at the 16:56 mark of the period as Mark Wires beat Bonk between the pad and the post for the 3-2 lead. Wires’ power-play goal was assisted by Pilkington and Jonathon Sigalet.
The Falcons added an insurance goal with 5:48 left in the third period. Freshman winger Rich Meloche netted his fifth goal of the season, beating Jeff VanNynatten, who replaced Bonk in net at the start of the third.
Bowling Green finished 1-7 on the power play, extending to a streak of three games with at least one power-play goal. The Purple Eagles were shut out in eight attempts with the man advantage. Bowling Green outshot Niagara 30-27 overall.
Niagara will head to the Taylor SportsPlex in Taylor, Michigan, for a CHA battle with the Wayne State Warriors Saturday night. Game time is 7:05 p.m.
The Falcons hit the road for a series next weekend in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, as they go up against the Lake Superior State Lakers at Taffy Abel Arena. Both Friday and Saturday’s games are slated for 7:05 p.m.