BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Sophomore right wing James Unger notched a pair of goals and an assist as the Bowling Green Falcons (15-11-4; 12-9-3 CCHA) beat the Western Michigan Broncos, 5-2, at the BG Ice Arena Saturday night.
Eleven different players contributed to the scoring column for the Falcons, precipitating a balanced offensive attack against WMU. For the Broncos, it was the first time they have been swept by the Falcons in a weekend series since March of 1996.
Backup netminder Eric Marvin recorded his first start for the Broncos since October, when he dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to Nebraska-Omaha. Marvin stopped 23 Falcon shots in 28 attempts.
“I was pleased,” Western Michigan head coach Jim Culhane of his goalie’s effort. “He hasn’t played in a while for us. He played hard. I think Eric was more disappointed that he didn’t get the win tonight.”
BGSU goaltender Jordan Sigalet, celebrating his 24th birthday at the rink, played well in net again, giving up just a pair of goals. The senior from Surrey, B.C., was 24 of 26 in saves.
“[This weekend] is just huge,” said Sigalet. “The standings are just so tight right now. We can’t rely on other teams winning and losing. We have another two really tough weekends ahead of us. This weekend was really huge.”
The Falcons sit in fifth place in the CCHA, with a total of 27 points on the season.
For Sigalet, the sweep was extra-special. He helped to organize a Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Weekend at the rink. The netminder was diagnosed with the disease last March. On the weekend, the campaign raised $8,295. With a Meet the Falcons skatearound scheduled for Sunday, the campaign is expected to net over $10,000. All of the money raised will go to the MS Society.
“Last week was a really busy week,” said Sigalet of his organizing efforts. “I just wanted to make [the campaign] as professional-looking as possible and raise as much money as possible. I was really excited to hear how much money we raised. It’s just remarkable. I want to thank everybody who supported [the campaign].
Bowling Green jumped out to a quick lead, scoring the first two goals of the game.
“I thought we had some tremendous jump [in the first period],” said BG head coach Scott Paluch. “We created some good chances.”
Sophomore winger James Unger scored his 11th goal of the year, taking a pass from below the circle and wristing the puck past Marvin for the 1-0 lead. The goal, coming 9:07 into the game, was assisted by Ryan Minnabarriet and Brett Pilkington.
“We got a pretty good skill play from Pilkington to Minnabarriet to Unger. It gave us some confidence for the game.”
Brett Pilkington added to BG’s lead just over three minutes later. Pilkington, notching his fourth goal of the year, wristed a shot from just in front of the net for the Falcons’ second goal of the period. Unger and Derek Whitmore assisted.
The Broncos cut into the Bowling Green lead at the 15:11 mark of the period on Jeff Pierce’s sixth of the year. The goal, another wrist shot from in front of the net, was assisted by Pat Dwyer. The Dwyer assist put him two points away from 100 for his career.
Bowling Green ended the first period scoring with just over 1:30 left in the period. The Falcons’ leading goal-scorer, Jonathan Matsumoto, split the defense while receiving a Jon Sitko pass and skated in on Marvin, going top-shelf for his 15th tally of the year.
The teams traded goals in the second period, both coming during a delayed penalty call.
Freshman winger Ben Geelan picked up goal number four for the Falcons. He one-timed a shot from the left circle, beating Marvin for a three-goal advantage.
The Broncos came right back on a Brent Walton goal. Walton, leading the CCHA in points, picked up a rebound in front of Sigalet, and deposited it into the twine for his 18th goal of the year. Kevin Labatte and Vince Bellissimo added the helpers.
The Falcons put the game away early in the third period on Unger’s second goal of the night, coming in front of the net after a BG power play had just expired. Mike Falk and Michael Hodgson assisted.
The Broncos finished the night 1-for-6 on the power play, while Bowling Green picked up a power-play goal in six attempts, as well.
Bowling Green will host the front end of a home-and-home series next weekend against the Michigan State Spartans, in a battle for home ice in the first round of the CCHA playoffs. The Spartans are in eighth place in the CCHA, just two points away from first-round home ice.
“This was our next opportunity to get some points.” said Paluch. “It’s critical this time of year to go out and earn points. We need to take care of our business and earn the points.
Western Michigan, now eliminated from home ice, will host Lake Superior State next weekend at Lawson Arena.