BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Two teams going in opposite directions in the CCHA put a halt to their respective streaks at the BG Ice Arena on Saturday night, as the Western Michigan Broncos defeated the Bowling Green Falcons by a score of 5-4.
With the victory, the Broncos (5-13-3; 5-8-2 CCHA) snapped a seven-game winless streak, dating back to early December. Their last win prior to tonight came against Notre Dame on Dec. 2.
The Falcons (10-12-1; 6-9-1 CCHA) dropped their first game since a 6-4 loss to Clarkson on Dec. 9, a span of six games.
The Broncos got a huge night form their assistant captain, winger Brent Walton. He scored four goals on the night, single-handedly dismantling the Falcons.
“He worked extremely hard the whole night. It’s a memorable night for him that will last quite a long time,” said Western Michigan head coach Jim Culhane.
Walton scored one in the first period, two in the second, and picked up the game winner at 13:02 of the third. A pair of those goals came at the beginning of a shift.
“There were two shifts that I was on the ice for only about 10 seconds, and I scored. It was a strange night,” said Walton.
The game was an up-tempo contest from start to finish. The teams combined to rack up 70 shots on goal, while limiting themselves to just 22 penalty minutes.
“I was pleased, obviously, with the victory,” said Culhane. “It was a tremendous hockey game. As quick as I’ve seen, certainly through the first 20 minutes of play.
“We knew we would have to try to get the puck to the net as best we could, as well as [Bowling Green goalie Jon] Horrell has been playing.”
Eric Marvin, senior goaltender for the Broncos, started his first game of the season in place of Daniel Bellissimo, who is day-to-day with a groin injury. After a shaky start, Marvin settled down, allowing just one goal in the last 36 minutes of play to earn his first win of the year.
“It doesn’t surprise me one bit that he made some huge saves down the stretch,” said Walton of his netminder.
Walton got the Broncos on the board just 43 seconds into the game, tipping a Ryan Marhle shot past Horrell for his 13th goal of the season.
The Falcons responded just over 30 seconds later, as James Unger banged a shot home from in front of the crease past Marvin for his ninth goal of the year. Brett Pilkington and Derek Whitmore assisted.
Bowling Green would take a 2-1 lead at 9:15 of the period. Junior winger Bryan Dobek fired a shot toward the net that was deflected out in front. Senior Ryan Barnett was on the doorstep and was able to tip the puck across the line for his fifth marker of the year. Don Morrison added an assist.
John Mazzei would give the Falcons a 3-1 edge at 3:28 of the second period. He picked up an Alex Foster rebound in front of the cage and sent it home for his fifth goal of the year. Jon Sitko added an assist.
Brent Walton scored the next two goals for Western Michigan.
The first came off a faceoff win by Paul Szczechura in the circle to the left of Horrell. He swept the puck over to Walton, who blasted a shot from between the circles for his second goal of the night. The goal came at 3:42 of the second.
Walton picked up the hat trick at 12:12 of the second period. He skated through traffic, getting an initial shot away, picked up his own rebound and beat Horrell to tie the game. Dave Krisky assisted on
The Broncos took the lead at 5:53 of the third period. Paul Szczechura banged home a power-play shot from inside the circle for his sixth goal of the year. Nathan Ansell and Jeff Locecchio assisted on the goal.
A power-play tally of their own allowed the Falcons to tie the game at 8:57. Alex Foster took a pass from the top of the circle and wristed a shot past the Bronco netminder to knot the game at 4-4. It was Foster’s eigth goal and 38th point of the season.
Walton would score his fourth goal of the night at 13:02, giving his team a 5-4 edge. He picked the pocket of a defender in the Bowling Green zone and fired a wrist shot over the right shoulder of Horrell from the top of the left circle.
The Broncos outshot the Falcons, 38-32, on the night.
Western finished 1-for-4 on the power play, while Bowling Green ended the night 1-for-5.
The two teams will hook up again tomorrow night at Lawson Arena in the second half of the home-and-home series.