OMAHA, Neb. — A special teams famine saw Bowling Green put one foot in the grave for this season on Friday, with the Falcons losing 6-1 to 20th-ranked Nebraska-Omaha at Qwest Center Omaha in the first game of the teams best-of-three first-round CCHA playoff series.
The 11th-seeded visitors did put an early scare into their hosts when Tomas Petruska scored a bizarre goal past Maverick goaltender Jeremie Dupont from a poor angle 5:45 into the game. UNO quickly drew level 2:06 later through Terry Broadhurst, and then five other Mavericks scored in a game that was effectively beyond doubt before it reached its halfway point.
The Falcons rarely had an answer for UNO after Maverick forward Dan Swansons eventual game-winning goal just 10:54 into the game. The bulk of the visitors scoring chances came in Fridays third period, but UNO had long since stamped its authority on the game and was happy to let the opposing offense come to them.
The big difference in the game, though, was the success of both of UNOs special teams units. The Mavericks killed all seven of the Falcons power plays on Friday, and UNO went 3-for-6 when on the man-advantage itself.
Maverick co-captain Mark Bernier, who scored UNOs fourth goal on Friday — thus forcing BGSU to bring out back-up goaltender Nick Eno to relieve Andrew Hammond just 2:29 into the second period — said that it was important for UNO to make its mark on the game early and often as it begins its attempt to make post-season waves in its last season as a member of the CCHA.
The playoffs are definitely a new season and a new start for everybody, Bernier said. So we knew that (BGSU) was going to come out and bring it, and we had to bring it even more.
We came out a little slow in the first, but I thought we played a pretty good game overall.
Forwards Alex Hudson, Joey Martin and John Kemp also scored for UNO on Friday, with the Mavericks earning their most comfortable win in any first game of the CCHA playoffs since joining the league at the start of the 1999-2000 campaign.
Sixth-seeded UNO (19-14-6) will look to finish off the Falcons (14-18-6-5) on Saturday, with the two teams meeting again at Qwest Center Omaha for the second game of the series.
Bernier said that he and his teammates dont expect BGSU to roll over, though, as they try to force a third game in the series, which would take place on Sunday night in Omaha.
Theyre going to come out (tomorrow) and fight for their lives, he said. Its a game where theyre going to come out strong, and we have to respond and play our game. Weve just got to keep doing what weve been doing.