BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — It was Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Night at the BG Ice Rink on Friday night, held to raise awareness of the disease and organized in part by BG netminder Jordan Sigalet, who was diagnosed with the malady earlier this season.
On the ice, though, it was Jordan Sigalet awareness night, as he convincingly stopped 27 of 28 shots en route to BG’s 4-1 win over the Western Michigan Broncos. Sigalet earned the Perani Cup number-two star for his efforts.
With the victory the Falcons (14-11-4; 11-9-3 CCHA) kept themselves in contention for home ice in the first round of the playoffs; they currently sit in fifth place in the league.
The Broncos (11-16-2; 6-15-2 CCHA), meanwhile, severely damaged any chance they had of home ice, remaining in 11th place in the league, two points behind Ferris State.
While BG held a lead through most of the final two periods of play, the outcome of the game was in doubt for most of the night, especially late in the third period, when the Broncos held a man-advantage for five minutes. Bowling Green’s James Unger was given a five-minute major for checking from behind and sent to the showers with a game misconduct.
The Falcons were able to kill off the five-minute penalty, but not without a lot of help from Sigalet.
“At one point, there were at least four, five, six whacks right there in the crease, and he just fell on the puck, saving every single shot,” said BG winger Alex Foster.
“[The] game wasn’t over by any stretch at 4-1,” said BG head coach Scott Paluch. “That’s a real big kill against the second-best power play in our league. There’s a lot of skilled players out there on that power play. To go for the whole five minutes and hold them off was big.”
The Broncos struck at the 7:31 mark of the opening period. Sophomore winger Kevin Labatte notched his fourth goal of the season by pushing the puck through the legs of Sigalet on a scrum in front of the net. Brent Walton and Jason Moul assisted on the play.
The Falcons tied the game on a power play at 14:53 of the period. Sophomore James Unger, standing at the bottom of the circle fired a shot at a sharp angle that found the net to knot the game at one. Ryan Minnabarriet and Michael Hodgson assisted. For Unger, it was his 10th goal of the year.
The game winner came early in the second period for the Falcons. Steve Brudzewski notched his eighth goal of the year at the 3:30 mark of the period, getting his own rebound off a shot between the circles and depositing into the glove of Western goalie Dan Bellissimo, who allowed the puck to trickle out and into the net. John Mazzei was credited with an assist.
The Falcons made it 3-1 halfway through the stanza on an Alex Foster goal that came from the left circle. Mike Nesdill picked up the assist on the goal.
“I just jumped on the ice for Steve Brudzewski. I look up and the puck is just flying through the air,” said Foster. “I just knocked it down with my stick, and once I had it on my stick in the slot, I saw the lower-left corner and scored. I really don’t know how it got on my stick, but once it was on the stick, it was in the net.”
Jonathan Matsumoto scored at 3:52 of the third period to increase Bowling Green’s lead to 4-1. He notched his 14th goal of the year, picking up a rebound off Foster’s shot and depositing the puck top shelf. Mike Falk added an assist for the Falcons.
The Falcons were 2 of 7 on the power play, while the Broncos were shut out in five attempts.
Bellissimo stopped 38 of 42 shots on the night.
The Falcons and Broncos will face off again Saturday night. The puck is set to drop at 7:05 p.m.