MADISON — Going in Fridays game, No. 19 Bowling Green had only lost one game after scoring first. In every single Northeastern victory, they were scored on first.
Something had to give.
So when Bowling Green opened 3-0 lead it was hard to count out the so-called “cardiac kids. Almost on cue, the Huskies began to battle back and eventually scored four unanswered goals to take the lead, holding on to outlast the Falcons, 4-3, to advance to meet upset-winner Colgate in the championship game of the Badger Hockey Showdown at the Kohl Center in Madison.
“I think Northeastern controlled a majority of the game, we were fortunate to be up 3-0 when we look back at things,.” Bowling Green head coach Scott Paluch said. They kind of deserved to win the hockey game”
Bowling Green took the lead less than two minutes into the game on a David Solway five hole goal beating Northeastern goalie Brad Thiessen right between the pads. Todd McIlrath and Tim Maxwell collected assists.
Before the first frame was over the Falcons struck again when Dan Sexton put a juicy rebound past a sprawled Thiessen. The initial shot came from McIlrath who took a feed from Maxwell to start the play.
Early in the second stanza, Bowling Green would add their third tally of the evening when Jacob Cepis took a brilliant backhanded feed from James Perkin to bury the puck in the top corner. Starting the play and collecting an assist was Kai Kantola.
Then the Huskies found their legs and the pucks began bouncing their way.
Halfway through the second Dan Nycholat took a shot from the point that snuck its way to the back of the cage through a three player screen to bring the Huskies within two. Freshmen Wade MacLeod and Tyler McNeely collected assists on the play.
A little over two minutes later the Huskies found the back of the net again when Jimmy Russo deflected a centering feed from Greg Costa past Bowling Green net minder Jimmy Spratt. Dan Nycholat collected his second career point ” and second of the game — with the assist.
Entering the third period things were looking up for Northeastern and momentum flipped their exactly five minutes into the period when Jimmy Russo tied the game with his second goal of the game. Defensemen David Strathman fed the puck to Randy Guzior who took it deep and centered it, Greg Costa tried to shoot in and was unable to connect but trailing him Russo was able to score.
Elation overtook the Northeastern bench when Louis Liotti took a shot from the point and made its way through a bevy of screen to find the back of the net, giving the Huskies their first lead of the game.
“We’ve been down a lot this year, it shows a lot out of our team to be able to regroup after that first period when Bowling Green was all over us and to be able to come back out there and really take it to them and get a little momentum going, Huskies defenseman Louis Liotti said.
And we’ve been in that position before but there is a lot of believability in our locker room and we know we can [come back].”
Believability is a word that has been a constant across the Northeastern locker room this season, it is something that Greg Cronin stresses.
“Its not fun as a coach to dig yourself a hole to start the second period, but there is believability, we have a nice balance in our team,” the head coach noted.
Neither the Falcons or Huskies netted a power-play tally; all seven goals were even strength. Brad Thiessen made 23 saves in the game, Jimmy Spratt made 29.
Northeastern will face Colgate at 4 p.m. CST for the championship while Bowling Green will play Wisconsin in the nightcap of the Showdown.