PLYMOUTH, Mich. — The power play played a prominent role in Bowling Green’s 7-3 win Thursday night at Wayne State. The Falcons scored four power-play goals and never trailed in a non-conference game played before a somewhat-rare rowdy crowd at the Compuware Sports Arena.
Coming off collegiate win No. 400 last weekend at Robert Morris, WSU head coach Bill Wilkinson is still in search of the elusive No. 401.
“(Bowling Green) jumped all over us right from the start,” said Wilkinson. “We couldn’t match the intensity and they took the game away from us in the first period. I don’t think we could have come out any flatter.”
James Unger got BGSU on the board 8:30 into the first period with a floater past Warriors’ goalie Will Hooper. Unger threw a shot on net from the left faceoff dot that Hooper seemed fooled on. The puck hit his inside left pad and trickled over the line.
Brett Pilkington made it 2-0 at 10:59 on a Falcons’ power play. Much like the first goal, Pilkington took a cross-ice pass from Mike Hodgson and wristed a shot over Hooper’s blocker top corner.
Bowling Green’s Rich Meloche put a three-spot on the board for BGSU on a nice end-to-end give-and-go with Derek Whitmore on another man-advantage. Meloche turned Hooper inside out for the 3-0 advantage.
Steve Kovalchik brought the home team within 3-1 when his wicked wrist shot from the point beat BGSU goalie Jordan Sigalet stick side at 14:26 on a WSU power play. Jason Baclig gathered a loose puck in front of Sigalet and dished off to Tylor Michel, who fed Kovalchik for the tally.
Bowling Green (6-2-1, 3-2-1 CCHA) had their three-goal cushion restored at 19:46 when Alex Foster found a screened Hooper’s five-hole gaping and made no mistake.
The Falcons held a 17-6 advantage in shots through 20 minutes.
“That was as good as a first period we’ve had all year,” Bowling Green head coach Scott Paluch said. “I think our ability to finish definitely put the game away in the third, but playing on the road, we had to establish a tempo and we did that in the first.”
Matt Kelly replaced Hooper to start the second period, but fared little better.
Jonathan Sigalet scored his first of the season at 3:07 from John Mazzei on a textbook passing play in tight on Kelly.
Hard work earned WSU (6-4-1, 1-0-1 CHA) its next goal as Mark Nebus roofed a shot past a down-and-out Sigalet at 10:13. A bouncing puck caused Sigalet to be down and try to freeze the puck, but the puck came out to Nebus at the bottom of the right faceoff circle to one-time a shot over Sigalet.
Defenseman-turned-forward Matt Boldt beat Sigalet at 18:18 on a nice centering pass from Adam Krug that Sigalet had little chance on. Boldt played on the blue line all last year, but was moved up front at the beginning of this season.
Wayne State peppered Sigalet with 25 shots in the second period and had a 31-23 shots advantage after two periods.
“I wouldn’t say I like seeing that many shots, but you can shoot 50 on me and I won’t complain,” Sigalet said. “We knew coming in that Wayne State had knocked off some pretty good teams and we shouldn’t take them lightly.”
“When we have had defensive breakdowns this year, they’ve generally been in the second period,” Paluch noted. “Wayne State executed well in the second and turned the game around. But this is a nice run we’re on; we’re keeping possession during power plays and getting more pucks to the net.”
Meloche scored his second of the night at the 6:28 mark of the third period on a 5-on-3 power play. Hodgson fired a point shot that Meloche got enough of to tip past Kelly.
Mazzei made it 7-3 when the WSU defense allowed him to cut right to Kelly and put a quick shot off the goaltender’s shoulder.
“I think we’re different than a lot of teams where they have one or two guys that do all the scoring,” Meloche said. “For us, I mean, Unger had four points last game and tonight it was me. The four points are great for me, but it’s even better getting this huge road win.”
Sigalet finished with 38 saves while Kelly stopped 12 shots. Hooper turned aside 13 in the first period.
The two teams meet again Saturday night in Bowling Green to conclude the staggered home-and-home set.