BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Five years.
That’s how far back you’d have to go to find Bowling Green’s last regulation win over Notre Dame, which came on Jan. 29, 2005.
That all changed Friday night when Bowling Green’s underclassmen took over the third period, giving the senior class their first regulation victory over the Irish, 4-3.
“It feels good, especially being down two goals; it’s good for the seniors, having not beat them in regulation yet,” Bowling Green captain Kyle Page said.
Bowling Green battled back from a pair of two-goal deficits, scoring three unanswered goals in the third period, to turn a 3-1 deficit into a lead.
For the second time in the night, the Falcons responded within a minute of an Irish tally, as Wade Finnegan potted home his second goal of the season 41 seconds after the Irish had taken a 3-1 lead.
Following Finnegan’s goal the Falcons stormed back into the game, first with a great two-pad slide by goalie Nick Eno to deny a Notre Dame shot and then at the other end Bowling Green’s fourth line of Finnegan, Cameron Sinclair and Brennan Vargas out-battled the Irish defense to put a rebound into the back of the net to tie the game at three.
“I think we wore them down as the game wore on, just sticking at getting the puck to the net and it worked,” Finnegan said.
“They [the underclassmen] definitely stepped up tonight, they stood up when we needed them especially the line of Finnegan-Sinclair and Vargas I thought they were our best line tonight,” Page said.
Brennan Vargas was awarded credit on the tying goal, while Sinclair and Finnegan picked up the assists.
The Falcons’ onslaught continued as Nathan Pageau gave his team their first lead of the night on a wrist shot from the left circle, beating Irish goalie Mike Johnson as the puck bounced in off the far post.
Following Pageau’s game-winner with 10:47 remaining, the Falcons held on to snuff out the Irish attack, despite facing two faceoffs deep in their zone with less then a minute remaining.
Bowling Green lost both faceoffs, but a sliding shot block by senior Tommy Dee allowed the puck to clear the zone and allowed the clock to run out.
“We had a huge blocked shot there at the end by Tommy Dee; he’s just a warrior who went down to block that,” Bowling Green coach Dennis Williams said.
Prior to the third period, it seemed it would be the Irish continuing their dominance over the Falcons.
Notre Dame took a one goal lead with 8:13 remaining in the first period when Kyle Palmieri beat Eno through the five-hole on the power play.
It was an unfortunate break for the Falcons, as defenseman Ian Ruehl had made a nice play to disrupt a Notre Dame break, but his clearing attempt landed right on the stick of Palmieri, who deposited his seventh goal of the season.
Bowling Green came within inches of tying the game at one when Jordan Sameuls-Thomas’ pass sailed through the crease, but couldn’t be corralled by Tommy Dee.
Calle Ridderwall almost doubled the Irish lead before the end of the first period, as his shot from between the circles with 1:17 remaining beat Eno before ricocheting off the cross bar.
In the second period, both teams exchanged goals, giving the Irish a 2-1 lead.
Tomas Petruska came close to tying the game just seven minutes into the second period on a power play. Petruska collected the puck and his shot twisted through a pile of bodies before landing just wide of the cage.
Less then a minute later, Notre Dame captain Ryan Thang stole the puck near the blue line and beat Eno on the glove side for a short-handed marker.
The two-goal lead wouldn’t last, as Kai Kantola got Bowling Green on the board a mere 26 seconds later.
“It’s big; they had momentum at the point,” Page said. “At the bench, we preach going out and killing their momentum.”
Kantola’s goal came after Johnson failed to control the puck behind the net, leading to Kantola potting the puck into an empty net.
Over the final ten minutes of the second period, Notre Dame carried the majority of the offensive play, and if not for the efforts of Eno in the Falcons’ net, the score deficit could have been much larger.
Despite Notre Dame carrying the play, Bowling Green did have a couple solid chances on a power play that carried over into the third period.
The carry-over penalty didn’t prove detrimental to the Irish, as they killed it off and then added another goal 4:56 into the period on a slap shot by Thang that was deflected in by Ridderwall.
However, after Ridderwall’s goal, momentum turned just 41 second later as Bowling Green started its comeback.
The two teams will meet again tomorrow night at 5:05 p.m. in the BGSU Ice Arena.
Bowling Green had beaten Notre Dame in their last meeting, but the victory came in a shootout.
Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson was not available for comment following the loss.