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College Hockey:
Streaks End As Bowling Green Overcomes Lake Superior

— In bad need of a win in the CCHA, the Bowling Green Falcons came out Saturday night with desperation as they brought an end to a three-game win streak for the Lake Superior State Lakers and ended their own four-game losing streak, winning 4-2 at the BG Ice Arena.

After losing their first three league games of the year in strong performances, the Falcons (3-4-1; 1-3-0 CCHA) were looking to get a little luckier with their scoring opportunities; they had averaged 33 shots per-game in those three contests without getting much to show for it with only four goals.

They used two second-period goals and a late third-period goal on a breakaway by James Perkin with 5:39 remaining to put away the Lakers (5-3-0; 2-2-0) and accomplish that goal after nearly giving away the two points in the final stanza.

However, the Falcons held off the late the scoring surge by Lake State that saw them bring the game back to a one-goal difference in the first 9:08 of the period.

“I really like how our team held up when it got to 3-2,” BG head coach Paluch said. “I’ve been really trying to stress the point that in college hockey the momentum switches and different things happen and you have to be prepared to play the full 60 minutes each night and I liked how we finished.”

Desperation and the urgency to get league points on the Falcons part played a big part in the final result, as all night they finished hard checks and seemed to be playing for more than the Lakers were.

“I think that’s an important part of playing in this league, you got to be desperate all the time,” Paluch said. “That’s the trait this team has to have to be successful and I thought we played with that urgency and desperation all night and I thought we did a lot of good things.”

One of those things was getting to Lake State net-minder Jeff Jakaitis, who kept the Falcons frustrated Friday night in a 33-save performance allowing only one goal. However, Saturday he allowed many more second chance opportunities and the Falcons made him pay as he gave up three goals before being yanked for freshman Pat Inglis in the middle of the second period.

“We talked about it in pre-game on how we needed to get traffic in front of him,” BG forward Derek Whitmore said, who had a goal and assist on the night. “You can’t let him see the first shot because if he sees the first shot he makes the save and I thought we did a good job of getting pucks through and getting pucks down to him and getting traffic in front to obstruct his vision.”

The Falcons took advantage of that philosophy in the second period putting 20 shots on net and scoring two goals only 23 seconds apart to take a 3-0 lead with 9:58 remaining in the period. The first goal coming from Whitmore’s line-mate Tomas Petruska off a third rebound chance opportunity in front following a missed-played pass from Jakaitis. Then the second from Rich Meloche following a poorly played shot from the circle by Jakaitis from BG’s Mike Nesdill that left Lake State head coach Jim Roque fuming.

“I was upset with him {Jakaitis}, I thought he himself turned the game around,” Roque said of his senior goaltender. “It was 1-0 and we had a little momentum going and Jeff never plays the puck, and that’s the part I don’t understand. Then the third goal was a rebound goal and he has to take the heat for that and he’ll tell you the same thing.”

Before being pulled, Jakaitis made 22 saves on the night and his replacement, Inglis, would finish the night for him making 17 saves on 18 shots as the Falcons out-shot the Lakers for the second night in a row, this time 43-28. BG countered with sophomore net-minder Jimmy Spratt on the night who played strong stopping 26 of 28 shots.

“I thought we did a lot of the same things we did last night, but the difference was tonight we were able to get a lot more pucks to the net and get more rebounds,” Paluch said. “And though there is another big zero up there for the power-play, I was pleased with how we moved the puck and did a better job of just wristing pucks down to the net and it created some good scoring chances.”

The Falcons would finish the night 0-6 on the power play, but generated nine shots with the extra-man despite being 0-14 in their first four CCHA games. The Lakers finished the night 0-5.

It was Whitmore, who earned first-star honors on the night, who got the scoring started just 2:53 into the game as he tapped in a pass in front from Jonathan Matsumoto from behind the net. The Falcons top line of Whitmore, Matsumoto and Petruska accounted for six points on the night.

“It was good for them to score early and it gave them a lot of jump,” Paluch said of his top three scorers. “Obviously they’re going to be a huge part of our team this year when it comes to scoring, but I thought tonight we saw some terrific contact out of all of them, especially Whitmore and that was a huge part of the game.”

Early in the third period, the Lakers tried to answer back with some aggressive play of their own as Trent Campbell and Dominic Osman netted two Laker goals just six minutes apart as they began to make the Falcons play outside their game. But the Falcons would answer back strong as Kai Kantola made a great pass to Perkin near the blue-line, who broke in and made a nice shot past Inglis from just inside the slot for some much needed insurance.

“The better team won tonight,” Roque said. “They played harder, won more battles and they were a desperate team tonight. They were 0-3 and needed a win and though I’m proud we got it to 3-2 there, they just out-battled us all night and deserved to win that game.”

Roque and his Lakers will now prepare for a two-game home series with Miami next weekend while the Falcons get ready to head to South Bend, Ind. for two games at Notre Dame.

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