KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Bowling Green Falcons (11-11-1, 7-9-1 CCHA) played a strong 60 minutes and lit the lamp five times en route to a 5-2 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos (5-14-3, 5-9-2).
“We were able to limit Western’s speed and odd man rushes,” said Falcons head coach Scott Paluch.
The first period ended scoreless as Bronco netminder Daniel Bellissimo and Bowling Green netminder Jimmy Spratt made 8 saves and 6 saves, respectively. Although both teams had their chances including a power play for each team, both goalies stood on their heads.
The second period, however, was a different story, as the Broncos got on the board first when Mike Erickson lit the lamp for the sixth time this season. Erickson took a pass off the boards from Mike Lesperance, used a Bowling Green defender as a screen and beat Spratt high on the glove side. The goal came four minutes into the second period while Brett John was serving a minor penalty.
“Me and Lesperance have been working on that, trying to pop a shorthanded goal,” Western Michigan captain Erickson said. “He passed it up the boards to create a one-on-one situation and I used the D for a screen and put all I could on it.”
Mike Lesperance added another tally for the Broncos just under four minutes later. Brian Bicek dropped the puck to Lesperance who snapped a shot and beat Spratt five hole, giving the Broncos a 2-0 lead eight minutes into the second period.
Derek Whitmore answered right back when he took a one-time feed from Brett Pilkington and beat Bellissimo as he was sliding across the cease. The second assist went to James Unger. Bowling Green trailed, 2-1, with 11:45 to go in the second period.
Erickson seemed to add his second of the contest and give the Broncos a 3-1 lead on the power play when he deflected a shot from the point. However, referee Craig Lisko immediately waved the goal off.
Lisko then skated over to the Broncos penalty box and looked at the goal on reply.
“It was pretty close. I didn’t feel that I had my stick up that high but that’s why they have replay,” Erickson commented.
Lawson Ice Arena is one of three CCHA arenas who are experimenting with instant replay.
“I’m in total favor of it (replay). I was one who really pushed for it. I feel we really need it in college hockey and in our league,” Culhane said.
Bowling Green scored its second goal while on the power play when Pilkington took a shot through a screen and beat Bellissimo. Bellissimo had lost his stick and blocker while making a diving save just a few ticks earlier. Mike Nesdill and James Unger were credited with the assists on the play.
“I know when the helmet comes off the whistle is blown. If you lose another piece of equipment I’m not sure on that ruling,” Culhane said.
Mike Falk gave the Falcons a 3-2 heading into the locker room when he beat Bellissimo low to the stick side during a scramble out front of the net. Alex Foster was given his 31st assist of the season and Jonathan Matsumoto received his 19th assist of the season.
7:11 into the third period, Matsumoto scored his 13th goal of the season and gave the Falcons a commanding 4-2 lead. Matsumoto beat Bellissimo low to the stick side. Jon Ralph got an assist on the goal, his first of the season.
John Mazzei finished the scoring with 4:57 left in the game when he and Ben Geelan broke in on a two-on-one rush. Mazzei beat Bellissimo low to the glove side. Bryan Dobek was also given an assist on the game.
“I’m really happy with the effort bouncing back. It was a pretty critical game after yesterday’s game. I think Western really took it to us yesterday,” Paluch said.
The Broncos finished the game with 20 shots on goal and were 0-for-5 on the power play. The Falcons sent 34 shots Bellissimo’s way and finished 1-for-5 on the power play.
The Broncos travel to Oxford, Ohio to face off with the first place Miami RedHawks (15-4-4, 12-3-2) next week, while Bowling Green plays host to Ferris State (9-8-5, 4-6-4) on Tuesday, Jan. 16 and then play a home-and-home series with the Michigan Wolverines (13-7-1, 8-4-1).