BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The Bowling Green Falcons used strong goaltendeing by sophomore Nick Eno combined with a lot of hard work around the Alaska net to pull off an early-season upset of the No. 9 Nanooks on Friday night at the BG Ice Arena.
In their ninth game of the season, the Falcons (1-7-1; 1-3-1-1 CCHA) finally got into the win column while handing the Nanooks just their second loss of the year.
“It feels great.” said BG’s rookie coach Dennis Williams, who picked up his first collegiate victory at the Division I level. “But it’s just half of what we set out this weekend to accomplish. Our goal is to get a sweep. We’ve got to come back and play 60 minutes because I know Dallas [Ferguson] will have them going tomorrow. We’ve got to outwork them tomorrow, and come out at the same level we did tonight.”
“We didn’t come out and get the start that we wanted,” explained Alaska coach Dallas Ferguson. “We turned a lot of pucks over, and to Bowling Green’s credit, they were quick in transition to keep the pressure going the other way.
“[Bowling Green] played a hard game. Their goaltender played excellent. We had some chances we should have put in the back of the net, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
The Falcons’ three goals equaled their highest single-game output of the young season.
“I thought we had a lot of opportunities around their net,” said Williams. “We had guys going to the net, paying the price. We did a real nice job.”
“We’ve struggled to score goals all year,” said Falcons’ alternate captain Tommy Dee. “To have two other lines contribute to the scoring was very good for us. Having every line going and producing was the biggest key to us winning.”
The Falcons were held to just 17 shots on goal, but made the most of their chances, chipping away at Nanooks’ goaltender Scott Greenham, and finally emerging victorious. Greenham finished the night stopping 14 of the 17 shots he faced.
At the other end of the ice, it was sophomore Nick Eno who was nearly perfect in saving 24 of the 25 shots thrown at him by Alaska. The netminder fought off chances from all parts of the ice en route to backstopping his team to the victory.
“Nick played great,” said Williams. “He made some huge saves on the power play. He was a difference maker. He was real calm, cool, and collected. I thought he challenged well, and that’s exactly what we need out of him. I was real happy with him.”
“I just to stay positive the whole game,” added Eno, tonight’s Perani Cup first star selection. “I didn’t want to let anything bother me. The guys were playing well in front of me, and it really kept me going.”
Bowling Green opened the scoring at 2:47 of the opening period on a rebound goal off the shot of Kai Kantola. Jordan Samuels-Thomas was standing on the doorstep and chipped home the goal, his fourth of the season.
The Nanooks tied the game at 7:11 of the second period when senior center Dion Knelsen deflected a knuckleball off the shot of Scott Enders from the top of the right circle. The puck floated over the glove of Eno, giving Knelsen his fourth goal of the year.
The Falcons scored the game winner at 12:46 of the period. Tomas Petruska stole the puck from a Nanooks’ player at center ice and fed it to Josh Boyd in the Alaska zone. Boyd flipped a wrister toward the net that went over the glove of Greenham for the senior’s second goal of the year.
“We haven’t had a goal like that this year that handcuffed Greenham in net,” said Williams. “We’ve been fighting those goals all year, and it seems like they’re always against us. This time, it was a great play by Tomas to get it up in the zone to Boyd, and when you get pucks to the net, good things are going to happen.”
The Falcons built a 3-1 cushion at the 10:06 mark of the third, taking advantage of a five-on-three power play opportunity. Dee netted his second goal of the year when he banged away at the puck during a scrum at the front of the net off a Petruska shot.
“That kind of handcuffed us last Saturday at Ferris, and we adjusted this week,” explained Williams. “We took a lot of time with the five-on-three. We set up exactly how we wanted it. You couldn’t ask for better timing for the goal.”
The Falcons finished the night perfect on the penalty kill, stopping the Nanooks in five tries.
“Any time you have a penalty kill, you just have to outwork them,” said Dee. “Sometimes, power plays think they don’t have to work hard; they think it’s going to come easy. We worked hard. We pressured them. We got to the loose pucks, we were up at the blue line, making them dump it in, just pressuring them all over the ice was key for us.”
The two teams square off again tonight. Game time is set for 7:35 p.m.