BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The Bowling Green offense showed up to the Ice Arena in a big way on Friday night, peppering Alaska goaltender Wylie Rogers with 35 shots while skating to a 4-2 win against the Nanooks.
The victory snapped a three game winless streak for the Falcons against Alaska and keeps BG in the hunt for a first-round home ice series in the CCHA playoffs.
It was a really solid complete game from our team, said Bowling Green coach Scott Paluch. We had some jump in our feet and some good physical play early on. We set a good tone, and were pretty solid down the stretch. It was a real important win for us.
I give credit to Bowling Green, said Nanook coach Doc DelCastillo. They played a good home game. I would say for the first two periods of this hockey game, they wanted the game more than we did, and thats why they won.
We need to play tough, playoff-type hockey, explained BG sophomore Kai Kantola. [Alaska] is a team that is right below us in the standings, and these are very important points for us.
The Nanooks (7-16-4; 7-13-3 CCHA) were outplayed in the opening two periods, before righting the ship somewhat in the third.
Defensively, Alaska had to make some adjustments, as senior defenseman and captain T.J. Campbell is sidelined for the series with an ankle injury. He did not make the trip to Bowling Green.
Hes missed, but thats no excuse, said DelCastillo of his captain. Our team has to come out ready to play. This is the lineup we have. Were in a battle for home ice. Weve got to find a way to compete and win hockey games without our captain.
After struggling in recent weeks, the power play for the Falcons got going again, lighting the lamp two times in four tries against the least-penalized team in the CCHA.
There was a huge, collective sigh of relief on the bench when that [first power play] goal went in, said Paluch. They dont take a lot of penalties, but in the 2nd period, they took a few penalties and we were able to capitalize.
Weve been kind of snake-bit in our power play, remarked Kai Kantola, who scored one of the two BG power play goals. We just fought through it. Were a good power play squad. We fought through some adversity and found the net twice tonight.
Derek Whitmore, the nations leader in goals per game, got the Falcons on the board at 2:21 of the opening period. He took a crisp pass in front of the net from Dan Sexton and buried the shot, beating Wylie Rogers on the stick side for his 22nd goal of the year.
The Falcons increased their lead at 1:41 of the 2nd period as David Solway netted his 3rd of the year on a second-chance shot. Kai Kantola and James Perkin assisted.
Ryan Muspratt would pull the Nanooks within one goal just over two minutes later, jamming away at a puck that was stick along the post. He found a hole for his 3rd goal of the year, getting assists from Nathan Lawrence and Jeff Penner.
The Falcons (14-13-0; 10-10-0 CCHA) would respond later in the period, getting a pair of goals from John Mazzei and Kai Kantola, the latter being a power play goal.
Dustin Sather picked up Alaskas final goal early in the third on a Jeff Penner a shot that hit him in front and fluttered over Jimmy Spratts shoulder for his sixth of the season.
Within two goals, the Nanooks turned up the pressure in the offensive zone, but Spratt and his defense was able to fend off any further Alaska chances. The Nanooks outshot BG 12-5 the final period of play, as Spratt totaled 31 saves on the night.
Paluch is pleased with where his team is at with seven games to go in the regular season.
Its been a fairly consistent 27 games. Were in position, as far as that second wave of teams in our league. We want to be home for the playoffs, and what weve done so far allows us to be in control of that. Its a good position to be in. We can decide. We dont need a lot of things to happen. Itll be our play that will decide that.
The two teams will square off again tomorrow in the final game of the series. Game time is set for 7:05 pm.