BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The Bowling Green Falcons outshot Alaska by a 47-28 margin, including 22 shots on goal in the final period, but still couldnt solve goaltender Wylie Rogers as the Nanooks upended the Falcons, 4-1, at the BG Ice Arena on Saturday night.
I thought the team showed a lot of character tonight, said UA coach Doc DelCastillo. We were competitive. It was a good hockey game back and forth. We played a simpler game and capitalized on the opportunities we had. I was proud of the guys and the way they played.
We knew that last night we got out-competed, said Nanook center Dion Knelsen. That just wasnt acceptable. We came in tonight thinking that we were going to have to work harder than them and out-compete them. We worked hard today, and we feel good about the win.
Wylie and his defenseman stood out in the final period, turning away a hard-working Falcon attack, including a 6-on-4 in the final minutes of play.
I just wanted to make sure I was as big in the net as possible., said Rogers. Guys were taking shots from everywhere. They were throwing everything at the net, and I was just trying to hold on to the rebounds. The boards are lively; they were trying to put them off the boards and bounce back at me. The guys in front of me held me up. They let me see all the shots. A couple of breakdowns I had they were able to cover for me. It was a big team effort in front.
When youre in the penalty box, theyre going to have a flurry, said DelCastillo. Wylie did a good job of shutting them out. Our [penalty] killers did a great job of stepping up and getting the job done.
After scoring at will last night, the Falcons could not get any puck luck 24 hours later. Bowling Green just missed out on lighting the lamp time after time. A trio of pipes, a disallowed goal, and a pair of pucks lying on the doorstep in front of an open net kept the BG offense at bay and allowed the Nanooks to escape with the victory.
The big difference in the game was that the pucks laying there, Alaska got to them and put them in, explained BG coach Scott Paluch. We were able to generate chances. We couldnt quite get enough chances in the areas that we needed to. Wylie was very solid throughout the night. Last night, we benefited from some fortuitous bounces. Tonight, Alaska got some of those bounces.
Nick Eno stopped 25 shots on net for the Falcons, but a pair of defensive lapses by BG allowed Alaska to capitalize early. Goals by Landon Novotney and Steve Vanoosten put the Nanooks up 2-0. They then handed the lead over to Rogers, who was able to preserve the win for his 8th victory of the season.
The Nanooks, who struggled in the opening two periods last night, were the aggressors tonight in those same two periods, getting quickly to loose pucks and generally keeping the Falcons on their heels.
The Nanooks struck quickly for their first goal, just 27 seconds into the game. Bowling Green center James Perkin, trying to drop a pass off to a teammate in his own zone, had the puck intercepted by Tyler Eckford. He fed a pass out front to Landon Novotney who wristed the puck off the shoulder of Nick Eno and into the net for 13th goal of the year.
Coach was giving me a hard time for not pulling the trigger enough last night, so I figured Id let one go, said Novotney. [Eckford] gave me a beautiful pass. It went off [Enos] shoulder and found the back of the net.
The Falcons had their chances in the opening period, but could not capitalize. A Tim Mazwell shot from the point seemed to tie the game midway through the period, but the puck went off a high stick in front, according to referee Kevin Hall.
Just over two minutes later, the Falcons skating on a 4 on 2 through the zone, had a second shot ring the post through traffic, but stayed out of the net to keep BG off the scoreboard.
The Nanooks would go up 2-0 in early in the 2nd period on a defensive breakdown by the Falcons. After tying the puck up in the corner, Aaron Lee sent a pass out front to defenseman Steve Vanoosten who was all alone in front of goaltender Nicke Eno. Vanoosten was easily able to find the back of the net for his 1st goal of the year.
The Falcons would get one back just under three minutes later on a pretty goal by Derek Whitmore. Dan Sexton fed a pass to the captain from behind the net. Whitmore, in front of the crease, made as if to skate out to circle, stopped on a dime, spun around and buried the puck into the twine, beating Rogers glove side for his 23rd goal of the year.
That was a terrific play, said Paluch. That was a pretty special type of offensive play. That doesnt happen a lot against pretty good players. To be able to do that all in one motion ” switch back, and then have the wherewithal to go top shelf against a good goalie, thats a big-time play by a good hockey player.
I felt pretty confident with our forwards down low, being able to come out of the corner, said Whitmore. Fortunately, I was able to get a step on the defenseman. When youre in tight, the rule of thumb is to try to get the puck up under the bar, and I was able to do that.
Alaska regained its two-goal advantage late in the middle period with a four on four goal. Sophomore Dion Knelsen found the puck on his stick after a scramble in front of the Falcon net. He stuffed it between the pads of Eno for his 10th of the season. Novotney assisted on the goal.
Adam Naglich closed out the scoring for the Nanooks late in the game scoring an empty netter.
The Nanook win further muddies the race for first-round home ice in the CCHA playoffs. With three weeks to go, five teams ” including the Nanooks and Falcons- are currently within three points of each other in positioning for the 5-8 home-ice slots for the weekend of March 6-8.
We knew we needed to win this game, said Knelsen. The way we played today is the way weve got to keep on playing the rest of the year.
Alaska (8-16-4; 8-13-3 CCHA) will head home for a pair of games next weekend against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Falcons (14-14-0; 11-11-0 CCHA) will go on the road next weekend to face the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks at the Omaha Civic Center.