BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — For the second consecutive night, the Western Michigan Broncos battled the Bowling Green Falcons to an overtime period, then watched the Falcons win the game in the extra frame.
How they got to overtime was a different affair.
Last night in Kalamazoo, the teams battled back and forth, exchanging leads in regulation before the Falcons won.
Tonight, the Falcons built a 4-0 lead through two periods, watched the lead evaporate in the third as Western Michigan staged a furious comeback and tied the game with 10 seconds left in regulation, then finally netted the game winner with just over one minute to play in OT to win the game 5-4.
The win gave Bowling Green their first sweep of an opponent since January of 2006, when they swept the Ohio State Buckeyes in a home-and-home series.
“If you’re around long enough, you get to see quite a bit,” said Bowling Green coach Scott Paluch. “The biggest thing we want to take out of this game is, it’s a big win for us. The overall product there was a pretty good effort by our team.
“We manufactured a lot of scoring chances. We were solid throughout the game. I like the way we were able to make the big play in overtime. We want to feel good about this. This was a big sweep for us.”
“It’s great for our team,” stated defenseman Kevin Schmidt. “We lost that game to Notre Dame, and just getting back on track, getting those four points this weekend, that’s really important for us.”
“I thought we showed a lot of character,” said Broncos’ coach Jim Culhane of his team’s ability to erase a 4-0 deficit. “We showed a lot of integrity as a team, and a lot of don’t-quit. I think it’s easy for any club being down 4-0 on the road to have a mindset to mail it in; we didn’t do that. We persevered and tied the game. It would have been nice to steal one out of here, but that’s the breaks.”
The Falcons received contributions on the scoresheet from eight different players; however, no contribution was more important than that of defenseman Kevin Schmidt. The junior from Markham, Ontario, netted a pair of goals, including the game winner in overtime, along with an assist.
In the overtime, Schmidt walking in from the left side and wristed a shot past Broncos’ goaltender Jerry Kuhn, a second period replacement for starting goalie Riley Gill.
“Schmidt is a guy that has a lot of skills,” said Paluch. “He was really strong on the power play tonight, and he joined in a rush to win a hockey game for us.”
“I was just trying to get active in the play,” said Schmidt about his game-winner. “Todd McIlrath saw me jump up [in the play]. He gave me a beautiful pass, and I was able to just walk in and get a pretty good shot off.”
Right winger Jacob Cepis netted a power-play goal, along with a pair of assists, helping his Falcons to their third win of the season.
“He is one of those electric, first-year players,” said Paluch. “He’s a guy that has the ability to create his own offense, whether he’s using his speed, coming out of corners. His size is clearly not a detriment. He’s a dangerous hockey player.”
Bowling Green struck for a pair of goals in the opening period. James Perkin and Schmidt tallied the goals, giving them a 2-0 lead going into the first intermission.
John Mazzei and Cepis strengthened the Falcons’ lead in the second period, both picking up goals from around the crease.
The Broncos struggled with penalties through the first two periods, before finally righting the ship and catching fire early in the final stanza The Broncos were able to net a pair of five-on-three goals in the opening 1:32 of the period to pull back into the game. Goals by Tyler Ludwig and Jeff Pierce kept the game within reach for Western Michigan.
“The five-on-three situation was really important,” said Culhane. “That was the key to get us going, to get us to 4-1. We were fortunate to get the next one to make it 4-2; it just kind of went into the net.”
After the two quick goals in the opening minutes of the 3rd period, they pulled to within 4-3 with just over 12 minutes to play in the period, courtesy of a Jonathon Lupa shot that banged off the crossbar and into the net.
After pulling the goaltender in the fial seconds, the Broncos tied the game at 19:50 on a Jeff LoVecchio goal on the doorstep. The puck hit a Falcons’ player, rolled off his back and into the net, setting the stage for Schmidt’s heroics.