SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — The CCHA playoffs kicked off on Friday night in three locales, including Taffy Abel Arena where Lake Superior State beat Bowling Green 2-0.
The Lakers take an early 1-0 series lead with the win, heading into Game 2 on Saturday night.
Lake Superior State found itself behind the eight-ball early on in the game after junior forward Kellan Lain was handed a major penalty for contact to the head after a hit on Bowling Green’s Dan Desalvo. The penalty ended Lain’s night after just 79 seconds of action.
Despite some scoring chances, Bowling Green couldn’t capitalize and the game remained scoreless through one period.
“We’ve all seen enough hockey where that five-minute major can go one way or the other,” said Bowling Green coach Chris Bergeron. “If you score a couple of goals, all of a sudden the momentum is on your side and you’re well on your way.”
“Those types of penalties early like that can hurt you the other way if you don’t score and all of a sudden, [the other team] gets momentum because of it,” added LSSU coach Jim Roque. “From our side, we looked at it as we had a lot of time on the clock if they did score.”
Desalvo left the game for a short time, but did return to action later in the period.
The Lakers got themselves on the board in the opening minute of the second period when Domenic Monardo beat Bowling Green goaltender Andrew Hammond with a shot from the slot high to the stick side, giving the Lakers the 1-0 lead.
Bryce Schmitt gave the Lakers a 2-0 lead two minutes later when, while driving the net, he redirected a feed from Nick McParland past Hammond.
“[The effort] was pretty disappointing,” said Bergeron. “This is the way we’ve played a little too often in the last five games and quite honestly, it’s the way we practiced this week. It’s disappointing and it proves to us that we’ve got a long way to go as a program. Lake Superior played like they were fighting for something and we didn’t.”
Kevin Kapalka stopped 31 shots for the Lakers, while Hammond stopped 26 shots for the Falcons.
“Andrew [Hammond] was injured down the stretch and he got into some games last weekend at Notre Dame and struggled a little bit, but it was nice to see him on top of his game tonight,” said Bergeron.
Roque also spoke of the defensive play of his club in the win.
“We checked really well,” said Roque. “We gave up a three-on-two in the first and after that, we didn’t give up any odd-man rushes. [Bowling Green] hit a crossbar late with their goalie pulled, but we had some good chances the other way.”