BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The Lake Superior State Lakers took early control of the game against Bowling Green on Saturday night, doubling up the Falcons in an 8-4 victory, gaining a series split on the weekend.
“We played better,” said LSSU coach Jim Roque. “We needed to respond to last night. We need to find a level of consistency night in and night out. We’re 25 games in, and I still haven’t figured it out.”
Lake Superior (7-11-8; 4-8-6-1 CCHA) racked up four opening-period goals against BG netminder Jimmy Spratt, three of them on the power play, putting the Falcons on their heels the entire night.
The win came with some bad news, however. LSSU goaltender Brian Mahoney-Wilson sustained a head injury that caused the sophomore to be transported to a local hospital after being carried off on a stretcher.
The play occurred late in the second period. BG’s Brandon Svendsen, driving towards the net on a scoring opportunity, was hooked from behind by the Lakers’ Pat Aubry and sent careening into Mahoney-Wilson. The goaltender hit his head on the ice and was knocked out momentarily. After a lengthy stoppage, medical staff sent Mahoney-Wilson to the Wood County hospital as a precaution.
“They’re worried about his neck,” said Roque. “He has a sore neck, but he’ll be all right.”
The Falcons (9-14-3; 6-11-1 CCHA) had trouble staying out of the box in the first period, getting rung up for four penalties. Lake State was able to take advantage of the BG penalties by scoring a trio of power-play goals. Josh Sim scored at 1:53 to put the Lakers on the board. Rick Schofield then picked up a pair of power-play goals just 27 seconds apart to give the Lakers a comfortable lead.
“We got a couple of good bounces,” said Roque of his team’s power play. “I wouldn’t say we did anything special on the power play. We got a little bit of puck luck on those two goals.”
“The penalties in the first period and our inability to kill them certainly put us in a bad situation early,” said Falcons’ coach Scott Paluch. “Our penalty kill, which has been pretty good for us lately, had an opportunity to set the tone early on with a couple of kills, but we didn’t do that. We could just never get ourselves close enough after that.
“[Lake Superior] had their chances early. That penalty right out of the gate, and the two to follow it up never gave us a chance to play five-on-five.”
BG’s David Solway put the Falcons on the board at 18:32 with a power-play blast from in front of the crease to give the Falcons some short-lived momentum.
The Lakers gained it back, scoring at 19:59 on a Dan Darczuk deflection into the net from the stick of Simon Gysbers. The goal was the nail in Bowling Green’s coffin.
“That was a big goal for us, especially when they made it 3-1,” said Roque. “Every time they came back, we came up with another one.”
“We gave up a lot of goals in the swing part of the game,” explained Paluch. “One second left, two minutes in, one and a half minute in, it was too many swing goals that didn’t allow us to take control of the game and take the momentum.”
From that point on, the contest was more or less evenly-played, with the two teams trading goals throughout the rest of the game.
The Lakers extended their lead just two minutes into the middle period as Kyle Pobur drove a shot through traffic, finding the five-hole of Nick Eno, who came on to replace Jimmy Spratt after the first period. For Pobur, the goal was his first collegiate marker.
The Falcons cut the Lakers lead to 5-2 at 8:48 with a short-handed tally. Brandon Svendsen picked up a loose puck at center ice, skated in on Mahoney-Wilson, and beat the goaltender for his eighth goal of the year.
The two teams then traded goals to close out the period, with Pat Aubry scoring for LSSU and Wade Finegan picking up his first collegiate goal for the Falcons.
The Lakers continued applying pressure in the third. Will Acton scored at 1:34 of the final stanza on a scrum in front of Eno, getting his fourth goal of the season, and giving the Lakers a 7-3 lead.
BG picked up its goal at 10:33 of the period. Solway found the five-hole of Pat Inglis from the left circle for his 12th goal of the year.
Nathan Perkovich added an empty-net goal with less than two minutes to play to cap the scoring.
Mahoney-Wilson and Inglis combined for 30 saves on the night in 34 chances.
Spratt and Eno combined for 28 saves on the night.