BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Special teams played a crucial role for both Bowling Green and Alaska on Saturday night as the Falcons and Nanooks skated to a 2-2 tie at the BG Ice Arena.
The two teams were whistled for a combined 28 penalties on the night, leaving skaters on both sides playing little five-on-five hockey.
The Falcons penalty kill stepped up big in the tie, allowing just one power play goal in 11 Nanook chances. Included in the penalty kill statistics were 3:56 seconds of five on three hockey, which the Falcons came away from unscathed.
A Falcon power play that has been hovering near eight percent for most of the season also stepped up big tonight. Bowling Green notched a pair of power play markers, including the game-tying tally inside of five minutes to play in regulation.
“It was definitely an entertaining evening at the ice house, for sure,” said BG head coach Scott Paluch. “Our ability to have a special teams game like that was really important for us. We had to kill off three five on threes throughout the game, scoring two power play goals, but most importantly, to score a power play goal when it was obviously needed.”
Falcon goaltender Jimmy Spratt was strong in net for the Falcons, turning aside 37 of the 39 shots he faced on the night.
“Jimmy Spratt had a very good weekend,” said Paluch. “Yesterday, he played very well and was a victim of some power play goals. He came right back [tonight], and he was really, really good again, especially on those five on threes.”
“Jimmy Spratt was awesome,” said Alaska head coach Tavis MacMillan. “Give credit where credit is due. He was unbelievable.”
MacMillan was somewhat unhappy in picking up just three of the four points on the weekend, and felt his team could played better in the series finale.
“I wasn’t disappointed with our effort tonight,” said MacMillan. “I thought the kids worked hard again, but I don’t think we were very smart tonight.”
“We had opportunities to win. We’ve had [opportunities] in the past, and maybe I should be happy. In past road games like this, we’ve lost games. So, maybe I should be happy, but I’m not.”
MacMillan was also vocal about his team’s proclivity to take penalties in tonight’s game, giving a team with a poor power play record numerous scoring chances.
“I don’t care who the team is you play against; you give them that many opportunities, they’re going to score goals,” said MacMillan. “It was ridiculous how many stupid penalties we took.”
Alaska struck first in the opening period on a Ryan Muspratt goal at 9:19. The sophomore winger notched his third goal of the year on a shot shoveled past Jimmy Spratt from just outside the crease; the puck crossing the goal line just before the net came off the moorings. Trevor Hyatt and Lucas Burnett assisted on the play.
The Falcons would score the equalizer with 7:30 left in the period, lighting the lamp on a power play attempt. Todd McIlrath slid a puck through the crease to the left circle where sophomore Brandon Svendsen was waiting. He one-timed the puck past Wylie Rogers for his 4th goal of the year. Mike Nesdil added an assist.
The Nanooks retook the lead in the opening minutes of the third period, scoring a power play goal of their own. Senior captain Curtis Fraser picked up his 14th goal of the year, blistering a shot from the far circle, beating Spratt glove side. The goal was set up with a nifty pass from Darcy Campbell through traffic from the top of the near circle. Kyle Greentree also assisted on the marker.
The Falcons appeared to have tied the game at 13:55 of the final period on a James Unger wraparound attempt along the left post; however the goal was waved off after video review because the net had come off its moorings.
Bowling Green did tied the game less than two minutes later with their second power play goal of the night. Brandon Svendsen blistered a shot toward the net from the top of the circle. Rogers made the initial stop, but the rebound came out in front. Todd McIlrath was there to drive the shot through the five-hole of the netminder for his 5th goal of the year.
The Falcons had a number of chances to win the game in overtime, thanks to their 11th power play of the night. Despite three shots on goal in the final minute, Rogers and company withstood the BG pressure, and skated away with the tie.
Alaska finished the night 1 for 12 on the power play, while the Falcons struck twice in 11 chances.
Wylie Rogers made 19 stops on the night for the Nanooks.
Both teams will face the CCHA’s top teams next weekend in their own barns. Bowling Green hosts first-place Notre Dame, while the Nanooks will entertain the second-place Miami RedHawks at the Carlson Center.