BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The No. 4 Michigan Wolverines (13-4-1; 11-1-0 CCHA) picked up where they left off Friday night, firing 34 shots on the BG net, pulling out a 5-4 win over the Falcons before a crowd of 4,537 at the BG Ice Arena on Saturday.
The Wolverines have now posted four consecutive weekend sweeps against CCHA opponents. For the Falcons, this weekend’s sweep was the first of the season for them.
For Michigan, the goaltender they saw in the opponent’s net was an unexpected one. Junior Jon Horrell made his first collegiate start in place of BG netminding stalwart Jordan Sigalet, after the announcement Saturday that Sigalet is suffering from multiple sclerosis and would sitting out Saturday’s game due to complications of the disease.
Sigalet missed a start last weekend against Michigan State for the same reason, it was announced today. Initially, the reason given for last week’s missed game was the flu.
“I think how [Sigalet] has handled himself for the last nine months and through the first half of the season has been as courageous an any I’ve ever been around,” said BG head coach Scott Paluch. “Our staff and our players certainly learn a lot and draw a lot from Jordan and what he’s done over the last nine months.”
While Sigalet and the team have known about his condition since March, Saturday was the first time it was made known to the public.
Horrell put together a valiant effort in Sigalet’s absence, making a number of high-caliber saves, but in the end, Michigan’s offense proved too much to handle for the Falcons, who slip to 8-6-2 on the season.
“They’re a very talented team,” said Horrell of the Wolverines. “Guys like [T.J.] Hensick and [Brandon] Rogers — guys that can really fire the puck — they do a good job of getting guys on track. You know what kind of guys you’re up against, but you have to learn to deal with it night in and night out.”
“What’s really impressive about their offensive game,” said Paluch, “is they’ve got four lines that can beat you and can really consistently keep you on your heels if you don’t keep the puck in safe areas.”
Even though the Wolverines won convincingly Friday at Yost Arena, the task proved to be more difficult in Bowling Green.
“Every time we come to Bowling Green, it becomes a crazy game,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “I don’t know whether it’s the pucks they use or whether we bring out the worst or best [in BG] in this rink, but ever since I’ve been here, whenever we come to Bowling Green, it’s crazy.”
“It was a good, hard-fought game,” continued Berenson. “[BG] certainly redeemed themselves. They had a good game and we were really lucky to get out of here with a win.”
While the teams scored in bunches Friday, the rematch was a see-saw affair from the get-go.
Bowling Green jumped out to the early lead. Junior winger Mike Falk scored his second goal of the season the 2:12 mark of the opening period, as he picked up a rebound in front of Al Montoya and slid it through the five-hole to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead. Derek Whitmore added the assist on the play.
Michigan took a 2-1 lead late in the first period, scoring a pair of goals just five seconds apart. Defenseman Jason Dest contributed the first Wolverine goal at 18:47. The recipient of a 2-on-1 pass, Dest found an open net on the left side of Horrell to tie the game at 1. Eric Nystrom and Andrew Ebbett assisted.
Moments later, the Wolverines took the lead. Jeff Tambellini, winning the faceoff at center ice, threaded a pass ahead to a streaking David Moss, who went in on Horrell and beat him over the left shoulder for his fourth goal of the season.
The Wolverines outshot the Falcons, 9-6 in the period.
BG knotted the game early in the second period on a fluke goal. With a pair of Wolverines in the penalty box, the BG goalie cleared the puck up to Derek Whitmore along the near boards. Whitmore attempted to send the puck around the boards in the Wolverine zone, but the puck hit an irregularity in the boards and caromed toward the goal.
Montoya, stationed in the corner in an attempt to corral the send-around, could only watch as the puck slid into the empty net. Horrell received an assist on the play, his first collegiate point.
The Falcons retook the lead at the 8:14 mark of the period. James Unger, getting the puck deep in the Michigan zone off of a faceoff, skated through a trio of defenders and beat Montoya for his 5th tally of the year. Bryan Dobek assisted on the goal.
Michigan tied the game with just under five minutes left in the period. Brandon Kaleniecki picked up his fifth marker of the year as BG scrambled to reassemble after killing off a 5-on-3 penalty. Kaleniecki’s goal from between the circles, was assisted by T.J. Hensick and Milan Gajic.
Horrell played stellar in net during the second period, despite giving up the one goal. He stopped a pair of two on ones and a three on one in the period.
Bowling Green jumped back in front just over a minute into the final period. Brett Pilkington, skating along the boards, fed a pass to freshman Ben Geelan, who found the top corner of the net from above the circles for the 4-3 lead.
The Wolverines grabbed the next two goals to retake the lead. Hensick tied the game at four at 3:43 of the period, beating Horrell from the left circle for his 11th goal of the year. Matt Hunwick and Mike Brown added the helpers.
The Wolverines took the lead three minutes later on their first power play goal of the night. Moss notched his second goal of the night, blasting a shot from the point and beating the goaltender over the shoulder. Hunwick and Nick Martens assisted.
Both teams finished one for seven on the power play.
The Falcons nearly knotted the game again two minutes later, as Steve Brudzewski picked up an errant pass and skated in alone on Montoya. However, Brudzewski missed the net, and the lead remained in Michigan’s favor.
Bowling Green had a final chance to tie the game late in the stanza, holding a six on four advantage thanks to a Wolverine penalty and an empty net, but the Michigan penalty kill held together to preserve the victory.
Horrell stopped 29 of Michigan’s 34 shots. Montoya stopped 22 of 26 Falcon shots in his last game before the World Juniors.
Both teams are off next weekend and do not play again until Christmas. Michigan will take on Michigan Tech in the first game of the Great Lakes Invitational on Wednesday, December 29th at 4:30 p.m. in Detroit.
The Falcons will head to the Dartmouth Tournament and play the host school on December 29th at 7:00 p.m.