BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — A little change of scenery helped the Bowling Green Falcons in a big way tonight, as senior captain John Mazzei notched two third period goals to lift the Falcons over the Ferris State Bulldogs, 2-1, at the BG Ice Arena.
For the first time this year, Mazzei played left wing on a line with David Solway and Tomas Petruska. The Kelowna, BC native responded in a big way by netting his first career two-goal game, ending the six-game unbeaten streak of Ferris State and moving his Falcons into a four-way tie for 5th place in the CCHA with one weekend to play.
Though playing much better on Saturday than they did on Friday, the Falcons (16-16-0; 13-13-0 CCHA) looked dead in the water going into the third period. Trailing 1-0 and finishing off the second part of a five-minute major penalty to Patrick Tiesling for checking from behind, the Falcons regrouped. Mazzei tied the game shortly after the penalty expired, then netted the game winner with 2:53 left in the game.
The late goal assured the Falcons of their first win of the season when trailing after two periods of play.
Both of the captain’s goals came from near the slot. The first came on a rebound off the back boards off a Michael Hodgson shot. The game winner came off a nice feed from Tommy Dee, who was positioned behind the net. Mazzei’s slap shot found the back of the twine, sending the BG fans into a frenzy.
“The first goal came off the back of the boards and out front,” said Mazzei. “It kind of just laid there in front and I tapped it in. I didn’t even know it went in at first. The second goal was just a great feed from Tommy Dee. He put it on the tape and I shot it as hard as I could.”
“John Mazzei was really good all game,” said BG coach Scott Paluch. “With some of the special teams situations, he didn’t have a lot of chances early on. We were able to get him on a couple of PKs, but without any power play time, he was sitting around a little bit. The senior captain came up really big tonight.”
The switch of the lines that allowed Mazzei to pair up with Solway and Petruska turned out to be golden for the Falcons, but Paluch felt moving the senior back to the wing position three weeks ago from center has made the difference.
“John played center for a long time,” explained Paluch. “He’s in a comfort zone playing left wing. We didn’t want to shuffle him back to center. We wanted to have him continue playing on the wing. Johnny has been hot lately, and he has really been scoring with any line he’s been with.”
Bowling Green played with intensity for the entire game, and although they seemed to solve Ferris State’s forecheck and trap on Saturday night, they could not get the puck to go into the net early on.
“The things that we could not do last night, we were able to do better tonight,” said Paluch. “We were able to get some pucks down deep, get some puck control and get some cycling going. With that said, it was still a long time before we were able to get on the scoreboard.
“[Ferris] plays such good defense and collapses really well, we had to get the puck out to the point once we got it. We did a decent job of keeping some offensive zone pressure tonight that we could not keep last night.”
The goaltending matchup was stellar again. For a second consecutive night, freshman Nick Eno started between the pipes for the Falcons. He made 22 saves on the night, earning the No. 2 star.
“It was a great goaltending battle,” said Paluch. “Nick gives up the early goal on a strange bounce back off the wall, but he was really strong all night. Mitch O’Keefe, who has been lights out lately, was really strong as well. They both looked extremely comfortable in net. There weren’t a lot of scrambles. They were just in control.”
Ferris State coach Bob Daniels was pleased with the effort his team put forth in the series, and felt the two teams matched up very well.
“BG had a little bit more of the edge in play tonight. It was another game that really could have gone either way, and maybe the just result of the weekend is a split. I don’t think there’s much difference between the two teams, and maybe that’s just the right outcome for the weekend.
“We’re still disappointed. If you win Friday, you’d like to win Saturday, but in retrospect, I thought we played hard and they played hard. It was two games that could have gone either way.”
Mike Fillinger had Ferris State’s only goal, a shorthanded tally at 7:09 of the opening period. After getting the puck from Aaron Lewicki at the blue line, Fillinger streaked toward the BG net, firing a shot that hit the side of the net. The puck bounced off the back boards and back onto his stick while standing near the left post. He flipped the puck underneath the crossbar for his seventh goal of the season.