College Hockey:
Special Teams Key Bowling Green Over Miami

Editor’s note: Friday night’s Bowling Green-Miami story misattributed the following quote. “Our league is just so talented in net, and you saw two of the best tonight. They gave up a bad goal each tonight. I think Brandon might have felt bad for Jordan,” to Bowling Green head coach Scott Paluch. The quote was in fact from Miami head coach Enrico Blasi. USCHO.com apologizes for the error.

Special teams played a key role for Bowling Green on Saturday night, as the Falcons downed the Miami RedHawks, 2-1, at the Bowling Green Ice Arena.

The Falcons (7-3-2; 4-2-2 CCHA) used a power-play goal and a shorthanded goal to give them their seventh win of the season. The Falcons are off to their best start since the 1996-97 campaign and are nearly two months ahead of last year’s pace in the win column.

Meanwhile, the RedHawks’ (5-8-1; 3-6-1 CCHA) woes continue. Miami has lost eight of its last 10 games. The RedHawks remain winless on the road this season, with an 0-6-1 mark.

While much of the first two periods was a special-teams cornucopia allowing for little flow in the game, BG head coach Scott Paluch felt that gave his team the advantage.

“We were able to develop a little bit of a rhythm because of our power-play goal and our shorthanded chance,” said Paluch. “That kind of gave us a spark. You need to find ways sometimes off special teams to get that spark for your five-on-five game, and I think that’s clearly what happened tonight.”

The special-teams units played a large role in the opening two periods of play; a total of 25 minutes were spent on special teams for both clubs.

Miami head coach Enrico Blasi felt his team struggled in the second period, due to the lack of even-strength play.

“When you’re getting a five-minute power play for us and then they got three straight power plays right in a row, and we didn’t even have a chance to go five-on-five in the second period,” said Blasi. “It is hard, especially when you have a short lineup, too, because certain guys aren’t playing and certain guys are playing too much. But give Bowling Green credit. They’re a good hockey team and they deserved to win tonight.”

Miami skated one man short Saturday due to injuries.

The goaltending for each team was outstanding for a second consecutive night, with BG’s Jordan Sigalet stopping 21 of 22 Miami shots en route to his second consecutive Perani Cup first-star honor. Sigalet stopped 50 of 53 Miami chances on the weekend.

“I thought he was terrific,” said Paluch of his senior goaltender. “Jordan did a real good job of finding pucks through traffic today, and smothering pucks again; not giving up loose pucks in a danger area.”

Brandon Crawford-West was nearly as good in net, making 18 saves in 20 chances on the night, and 38 of 42 for the weekend.

The RedHawks struck first at the 14:13 mark of the opening period. After a five-minute major was charged to Falcon winger James Unger, Miami defenseman Chris Busby scored his first goal of the season, a one-timer from just inside the blue line which went over the shoulder of Sigalet and under the crossbar. Todd Grant and Taylor Hustead assisted on the play.

The scoreboard belonged to Bowling Green in the second period.

The Falcons tied the game on a power play goal at 9:25 of the period. Unger found a loose puck in front of Crawford-West and placed the puck over the left shoulder of the goalie to knot the game at one. Don Morrison and Brett Pilkington assisted on the goal.

The Falcons got the game winner just two minutes later. BG’s Jeremy Bronson was sent to the box for a holding the stick penalty. Shortly thereafter, senior winger Steve Brudzewski, skating with the puck in the Miami zone, fired a shot at Crawford-West which kicked back out below the crease. Brudzewski picked up his own rebound and beat the RedHawk goaltender on the glove side for the 2-1 BG lead. For the Falcons, it was their second shorthanded goal of the season.

“We broke the puck out of our zone on the penalty kill,” said Brudzewski. “[Bryan] Dobek skated through the neutral zone. He gave me a nice little chip pass. I came in down the right side, took a shot and got my own rebound. There was empty net on the right side, and I put it in.”

“[Brudzewski] didn’t play last night,” said Paluch. “We knew he was going to come out tonight and get back to giving us that energy that he’s given us for the last couple of years.”

The Falcons finished 1 for 10 on the power play, while the RedHawks ended the night 1 for 6.

With the win, BG continues in the top half of the CCHA standings. The Falcons, who are turning their fortunes around this season, notched their seventh win of the year, a feat it took them until January 23 against Michigan State to accomplish last year.

The Falcons will play that same Spartan team next week in a home-and home series, with Friday night’s game in East Lansing.

The RedHawks take a week off of CCHA action, as they host Robert Morris at Goggin Arena next weekend.

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