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College Hockey:
RedHawks Edge Falcons

CCHA Champs Win Regular Season Finale

— The No. 3 Miami RedHawks (23-7-4, 20-6-2 CCHA) sent off the Goggin Ice Arena in style as they skated to a 5-4 victory over the Bowling Green State Falcons (13-21-2, 8-18-2 CCHA) in the last regular season game at Goggin.

However, the game was filled with the intensity that both teams intended to bring as they combined to commit 27 penalties in the game.

“It was an ugly ‘W’, but we’ll take it whatever way we can,” said RedHawk team captain Andy Greene, who was awarded the team MVP during Saturday’s game.

The first period started out very slow as both teams could not really connect on passes and shots. However, the intensity was brought by both teams and referee Stephen McInchak called eight total penalties on both teams.

“Anytime there are a lot of penalties, it takes the rhythm out of the game for both teams,” said RedHawk head coach Enrico Blasi.

At the 6:55 mark, both teams would play 4-on-4 hockey. The Falcons would actually get another penalty and give the RedHawks a 4-on-3 advantage for one minute. The RedHawks would not capitalize until both teams went back to 4-on-4 and the goal came at 8:47, just as Falcon defenseman Jonathan Matsumoto returned to the ice.

Mitch Ganzak found line mate Greene in the middle of the slot where he fired a wrist shot past Falcon goaltender Jimmy Spratt on the stick side to make the score, 1-0.

The RedHawks would hold the lead through the first period as the Falcons could not get a shot past RedHawk net minder Jeff Zatkoff.

The RedHawks would add to their lead in the second when they capitalized again while playing 4-on-4. The goal came at 14:12 when Ryan Jones fed Brad Robbins at the top of the left circle where he fired a wrist shot past Spratt as the RedHawks were crashing the net.

However, the Falcons would tally a goal of their own on a cross checking penalty to Jones. The goal came at the 17:30 mark when defenseman Kevin Schmidt found team captain Don Morrison at the top of the left circle where he fired a high wrist shot to break up Zatkoff’s shutout.

“We had a one goal lead at that time and I just shook it off,” said Zatkoff.

It didn’t take long into the third period for the Falcons to tally the equalizer goal. At 1:36, Alex Foster capitalized on a rebound when he slid in a backhand shot past Zatkoff to make the score, 2-2.

However, the scoring would not end as both teams tallied five more goals in the period. The RedHawks took the lead on a 4-on-3 advantage when Jones tallied his third goal of the series. The goal came at 8:09 when Nate Davis had the puck at the left circle and found Jones in front of the net where he slid the puck past Spratt.

“Those 4-on-3′s were certainly not helpful for us,” said Falcon head coach Scott Paluch.

The Falcons would answer back three minutes later on a 5-on-3 advantage of their own when Matsumoto picked up a rebound and fired a backhand past Zatkoff to make the score 3-3 at the 11:14 mark. The RedHawks had killed a 5-on-3 earlier and would kill another one later in the period.

“When you’re killing 5-on-3′s, the momentum swings in your direction,” Greene said.

The momentum definitely swung because that would be the last time that the Falcons really had a shot to win the game. The RedHawks would score two more goals, both of them coming from the Davis brothers.

At 15:29, the RedHawks went on the power play and Mitch Ganzak skated in front of the blue line where he fired a wrist shot at Spratt. The shot banked off of Spratt’s pad where Jones picked it up and slid it to Davis who put in the goal. It was Jones’ fifth point of the series.

“We knew going in that our power play needed to step up big and it did for us tonight,” Jones said.

The Falcons would get a power play in the final two minutes and would use that to pull Spratt and get another skater on the ice.

“We wanted to make sure we had the extra guy to get the puck,” said Paluch.

The plan did not work as Matt Davis would steal the puck away and fire a wrist shot from center ice that went into the back of the empty net. It was the seventh time this season that the Davis brothers scored a goal in the same game.

The Falcons would get one more goal with the extra attacker at 19:00. The goal came when Mike Falk got the puck in the middle of the slot and beat Zatkoff on a high wrist shot. The goal would not be enough as the RedHawks were able to keep the puck out of reach and skated to a 5-4 victory.

“It was a hard fought game, but they made the extra play to win,” Paluch said.

As the CCHA tournament begins next weekend, the RedHawks will have a nice two week break before they return to action for their playoff series at the Goggin. According to Blasi, the long break will not faze the team as they have had some other long breaks this season.

“We’ve had this situation three different weekends this year and our team understands what they need to do on the week off,” Blasi said.

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