BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The Bowling Green Falcons lit up the scoreboard for a second consecutive night, while getting stellar play from their defensive corps, as they knocked off the Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks, 6-1, at the BG Ice Arena on Saturday night.
Jordan Sigalet looked strong again in net, stopping 26 of the Nanooks 27 shots to register his 10th victory of the season.
“In order to beat a guy like Sigalet, you have to create second and third shot opportunities,” said Fairbanks first-year head coach Tavis MacMillan. “He’s going to stop the first shot every time.”
The Nanooks’ Keith Bartusch, making his first start in net since Oct. 22, played solidly at times, but struggled with giving up rebounds in the loss.
“Sigalet outplayed our goaltender,” said MacMillan. “Not that Keith played bad. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that he let in any easy ones. The bottom line is, Jordan Sigalet outplayed our goaltender. He did it last night, too. He’s done it against a lot of goalies this year.”
A big reason for the Falcons’ success on the weekend was the penalty kill. BG was perfect in eight PK chances on the night.
“We took too many penalties,” said BG coach Scott Paluch. “We killed any kind of momentum we could get by having to kill penalties, but we regained momentum by killing off those penalties. I’m pleased with what our penalty kill did, especially being in the shooting lanes.
“Fairbanks did a good job of moving the puck around and found some holes in our passing lanes, but we did a great job in the shooting lanes and limiting real good shots. The important thing is, eight chances and we don’t give up the power-play goal.
“That’s a good step.”
Paluch said the 6-1 score in the contest was not indicative of the game
“[This was] a tighter game than the score indicated,” said Paluch. “We got some fortuitous bounces that went in our direction, and we were pretty good at putting puck in the net when we had the opportunity. It’s a great four points on the weekend.”
While the Nanooks had their chances, MacMillan felt played sloppily during parts of the third period, especially by taking bad penalties.
“We talked about playing tough and playing hard, and I don’t know how many cross-checking penalties we took in the third period that’s not tough hockey,” explained MacMillan. “You want to play tough, you hit a guy with a shoulder in his chest. You hit him properly. You dig for loose pucks, you take a hit to make a play, that’s playing tough hockey. Hitting a guy from behind isn’t tough hockey.”
Overall, however, MacMillan gave tonight’s opponent high marks.
“Bowling Green is the hardest working team that weve played all year,” said MacMillan. “These guys work hard. I’m so impressed with their work ethic. I couldn’t tell who was who out there. They’re like a bunch of little robots just flying around. When you play a Michigan, you notice a guy like [Jeff] Tambellini, or when you play Michigan State, you notice [Jim] Slater. But with these guys, it’s just one line after another and three sets of defensemen after another. They just come at you. They’re spread out well. They’ve got four quality lines that come after you.”
Bowling Green (10-7-3, 7-5-2 CCHA) opened the scoring at the 13:27 mark of the first period.
Freshman winger Alex Foster picked up his 4th goal of the season, finding a loose puck in front of the Fairbanks net and depositing it over the shoulder of UAF netminder Keith Bartusch. Jonathon Matsumoto and Chris Pedota assisted on the play.
The Falcons exploded for three goals in the second period, all three coming within a five-minute span.
Freshman winger Derek Whitmore scored first in the period, beating Bartusch glove side at the 12:25 mark of the period for his 8th goal of the season. Steve Brudzewski and James Unger added the helpers.
Alex Rogosheske notched his second goal of the season, a one-timer off the pass of Ryan Minnabarriet, bearing Bartusch top shelf. Ben Geelan added an assist on the goal, which came at 15:26 of the period.
Sophomore Rich Meloche gave the Falcons a 4-0 lead just over two minutes later. Bryan Dobek fired a shot in on Bartusch, who made a pad save. Meloche picked up the rebound and slammed it home for his 7th goal of the season. Brett Pilkington was credited with an assist on the goal.
Bowling Green increased their lead in the 3rd period to a 6-0 margin on
power play goals by Meloche and Whitmore, both coming near the midway point of the period.
The Nanooks spoiled the shutout with 11 seconds to go in the contest, as Ryan McLeod scored his sixth goal of the year, beating Sigalet under the arm for Fairbanks lone marker. Scott Vockeroth assisted on the goal.
Though Sigalet was mildly disappointed to lose the shutout, he’s very happy with the way the team is playing in front of him.
“A lot of things are coming together now,” said SIgalet. “We got a really good rest over Christmas break. Guys are excited to be back. Out younger class right now is really carrying our team in points; the freshmen are scoring a lot of goals. It’s really exciting.”
The Falcons finished 2-for-7 on the power play, while the Nanooks were
shut out in eight attempts.
Bartusch made 29 saves on the night for the Nanooks.
The Falcons are idle next weekend; they will travel to Marquette to meet Northern Michigan in two weeks. Alaska-Fairbanks will travel up the road to Ann Arbor next weekend to face the Michigan Wolverines.