BUFFALO, N.Y. — Bowling Green wrapped up its weekend series with nonconference foe Canisius on a positive note when senior winger Marc Rodriguez netted the deciding goal with 1:32 remaining in the third period in a 3-2 win at the Buffalo State Ice Arena.
Rodriguez’s tally gave the Falcons (5-10-5 overall) a victory and a tie in their two-game tilt with the Golden Griffins (6-9-5 overall). Bowling Green now has an eight-game undefeated streak against the AHA that dates back to Oct. 2007.
Falcons’ coach Chris Bergeron was unhappy with a lack of execution in his team’s 2-2 tie with the Griffs on Saturday, but offered measured praise for the Falcons’ play on Sunday.
“I think our process was better and we’re happy with the result,” Bergeron said. “We’re just executing better. Our game plan is a pretty simple game plan. It’s defend hard, try the push the pace through the neutral zone into the offensive zone and just go to our game at that point. We just struggled with that yesterday — the exchanges, the d-to-d play, the d-to-forward play was just not good. I thought today was way cleaner, way crisper and ultimately, we spent more time in their zone.”
After struggling to a 2-9-3-1 mark (the CCHA settles overtime ties with shootouts) to start the season, Bowling Green — currently tied for 10th place in the CCHA with Northern Michigan — has posted a 3-1-1-1 record over its past six contests.
Rodriguez’s game-winner squashed the hopes of a Canisius squad that had matched Bowling Green goal-for-goal — and nearly shot-for-shot — through the previous 123 minutes of hockey. Second-period markers by Griffs’ forward Cody Freeman and Falcons’ winger Dajon Mingo knotted the teams at 1-1 until the first goal of freshman Brent Tate’s collegiate career gave Bowling Green a 2-1 lead at the 7:42 mark of the third period.
Canisius tied the score at two with five minutes remaining in the game when junior winger Kyle Gibbons dove to swat a loose puck behind Falcons’ goaltender Tommy Burke.
Rodriguez, however, sealed the win when he fought through a scrum at the left post to swat the rebound from Camden Wojtala’s point shot past Griffs’ netminder Tony Capobianco with just over 90 seconds left on the clock.
“It’s nice to see [Rodriguez] get rewarded,” Bergeron said. “You go around the net enough and good things will happen. He’s a great kid and it’s nice to see good things happen for him. He’s been contributing this year.”
Burke collected 32 saves in the victory, his second of the season. Capobianco had 27 stops in the loss.
Canisius allowed three goals in regulation for the first time since a 6-3 win over RIT on Nov. 10. The loss did compound a vexing trend for the Griffs, who are now 0-6 in one-goal games this season.
Dave Smith’s team is 4-4-2 in its last 10 games, but has seemed to make each loss as painful as possible. Sunday’s defeat to the Falcons came on a goal in the final two minutes. The previous two Griffs’ losses were overtime decisions to AHA foes Army and Mercyhurst and the Griffs were on the wrong end of a 2-1 decision to archrival Niagara on Nov. 16.
Smith, however, was taking a more philosophical view of the result to end the weekend.
“I thought we were strong as the game was winding down,” he said. “I thought our legs were fresh. We had guys going who were hungry. It seemed like their guys had pucks go in our net easier than pucks that went in theirs.
“I think our program is ready to take the next step. There was a time when we could not play 60 minutes with a CCHA team, whether they were at the top of the standings or the bottom of the standings. Over two nights, that’s 125 minutes where we wore them down. What we need to do as a program is eliminate the little bit of a lull to keep the win last night or keep the win tonight and win those games on a consistent basis.
“The talent is there and that’s the big-picture stuff. I thought we really skated with them and wore them down.”