BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The Michigan Wolverines ended a five-game losing skein in convincing fashion, defeating the Bowling Green Falcons, 4-1, at the Lucas County Arena on Saturday night.
One night after a 4-2 Falcons’ upset, the Wolverines (5-7-0; 3-5-0-0 CCHA) used a trio of first-period goals to put Bowling Green on their heels. Michigan took a 2-0 lead in the first 12 minutes of the contest and never looked back, handing the Falcons their ninth defeat of the year.
“We saw some more glimpses of the way our team can play,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “Our chances started to go in. We started to play better with the puck, and I thought we were a little better without the puck.”
“I thought it was clear that we took a step back and they took a step forward,” said Falcons’ coach Dennis Williams. “We played a heck of a game last night. We came out tonight and sat back and then spotted them the goals. We caught ourselves looking around and wandering around out there, so we’ve got to get back to the drawing board, and get back to the aggressiveness we want to bring. We need to get back to moving our feet and supporting one another, and we’ll get back to that on Monday.”
The three-goal opening period seemed to be just what the doctor ordered for an ailing Michigan offense.
“Tonight, we put some of our chances in,” said Berenson. “I can’t tell you they were pretty goals, but the first goal, we got the puck back to the ‘D,’ smart shot, deflection, goal. You have to score goals like that.”
That first goal came 2:18 into the opening period, and put a jump into the step of the Maize and Blue.
Defenseman Brandon Burlon let a shot fly from the right point that was tipped into the net by Carl Hagelin for his fifth goal of the year. Chris Brown assisted on the play.
“It meant a lot,” remarked Hagelin. “When you have trouble scoring, it’s important to get that first goal.”
“This is a team you can’t give a lead to,” said Williams. “They’re such a good transition team, and they’ve got the personnel that can come down real quick and score.”
“We came out a little flat,” said Falcons’ captain Kyle Page about giving up the first goal. “We kind of underestimated them a little bit. I think we thought we could get away with not moving our feet and it cost us.”
The Wolverines added two more tallies in the first period, sandwiched between a Falcons’ score on a break.
The Wolverines added to their lead at 11:07 of the period courtesy of an A.J. Treais goal. The freshman, standing in front of the crease, wristed a shot past Eno’s glove for a 2-0 lead. David Wohlberg and Louie Caporusso assisted on the play.
The Falcons got one back at 15:38, thanks to a center ice turnover. Tomas Petruska picked up a loose puck at neutral ice and fed it to freshman Marc Rodriguez. He raced in all alone on Bryan Hogan and beat the veteran goaltender glove side for his first collegiate goal.
Marc Lebler gave his Wolverines a two-goal cushion once again just over a minute later, taking advantage of a turnover in the Falcons’ zone and wristing a shot over the surprised Eno for his second goal of the season.
“That was a big goal, because they’re still in the game,” said Berneson. “Even though we’d outshot them and out-chanced them, they’re still in the game.”
Michigan added the capper at 13:00 of the final period on a one-timer by Chris Brown for his sixth goal of the season while on a power play.
The Wolverines then used a good PK to kill off a five-minute major to Brian Lebler for checking from behind.
“We’ve been a pretty good team in the first two periods, and then in the third period, we’ve either collapsed or shot ourselves in the foot,” explained Berenson. “Tonight was a better third period.”
“We realized we had to come out and play stronger and get some hits,” said Hagelin. “We showed a lot of character killing off that penalty.”
Berenson is happy to get the losing streak behind him.
“This was a devastating stretch. We knew these were good teams, but we still expected to win more than our share of games. We didn’t expect to lose four out of five home games. And we worked hard to prepare for those games. It’s been a tough stretch, and we have to stick together through it all. We haven’t turned the corner, but we definitely stopped the bleeding.
“When Michigan plays five games, and scores only six goals, I can’t in my long-term memory remember that. We need to score goals to win games, and it was good to see the puck go in tonight.”
Thanks to a stifling defense, Hogan had an easy night, stopping 11 of BG’s 12 shots on goal.
“That’s the best game our team has given our goalie,” said Berenson. “and when Hogan had to stand tall, he gave us a good game in the third.”
Falcons’ goalie Nick Eno was much busier at his end of the ice, but was still able to turn aside 26 of the 30 shots he faced.