BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — After losing a double overtime heartbreaker at Michigan Tech in the WCHA tournament championship last season, Bowling Green has certainly answered the Huskies proverbial bell.
The Falcons scored four goals in a five-minute span and chased an opposing netminder for the fourth time in five games for a convincing 7-2 victory over visiting Michigan Tech on Friday.
The win is Bowling Green’s fifth in a row and extends an unbeaten streak for the Falcons against the Huskies to four, including the Great Lakes Invitational championship game back on Jan. 2 in Detroit.
However, for as conclusive as the victory was, it didn’t begin that way as Michigan Tech outshot Bowling Green 13-5 in a scoreless first period.
“I thought we got off to a little bit of a slow start. They were outshooting us, out-chancing us,” said Falcons freshman forward Connor Ford. “On the bench, we could tell that we had more in us.”
Bowling Green began its second period barrage at 2:28 after Mitch McLain, standing at the Huskies’ crease, took a right point blast from Falcons defenseman Connor McDonald and stuffed it home for his 14th goal of the year. One minute, 14 seconds later, it was Jacob Dalton doubling it up with a seeing-eye power play laser from the top of the point just inside the blue line.
“The second goal was a seeing-eye puck, that’s all it was. The puck was shot, and [Munson] was transitioning, trying to find it — at the same time. It was just lucky for us,” said Falcons coach Chris Bergeron. “But we hit the net and it went in.”
The Falcons poured it on from there, beginning with Frédéric Létourneau’s fourth goal of the year at 6:58 on an assist from Max Johnson. Létourneau stood just off the right of the crease after Johnson snagged a Huskies giveaway. Johnson skated down the slot, below the hashes and snapped it to Létourneau, who buried it to force a timeout from the visitors.
“The first period was beautiful,” said Huskies coach Joe Shawhan. “The attention to detail, the execution … in the second period, we got away from it. We didn’t box out in front of the net.”
Freshman goaltender Robbie Beydoun was called into action for Michigan Tech at this point in relief of junior Patrick Munson, but Bowling Green just pressed on the accelerator more from there. Johnson welcomed Beydoun to the contest with a goal on the rush from the left side circle to make it 4-0 just 24 seconds later.
“I thought we had a good second period,” said Bergeron. “I thought they had the better of the first.
“I was happy with our effort. I didn’t love our execution early, with the puck in particular.”
Michigan Tech’s Alex Smith and Jake Lucchini finally got the Huskies on the scoresheet with goals at 3:48 and 13:14 of the third, but Bowling Green’s Brett D’Andrea found the back of the net at 11:01 to make the hosts 2-5 with the man advantage.
Connor Ford scored his fifth goal of the year, unassisted, on a forehand-to-backhand top-shelf marker at 16:55 and Stephen Baylis tipped in a feed from Chris Pohlkamp for his eighth of the year at 17:14 to put a wrapper on things to end the scoresheet entries for the night.
Or so was thought.
With tempers flaring from both teams, things finally boiled over when Michigan Tech’s Cooper Watson and Bowling Green’s Tyler Spezia went toe-to-toe at 17:33, a rarity in college hockey. Both received double minors for roughing and 10-minute game misconduct penalties. “Everything we need to get better at, we had to get better at. Everything showed up,” Shawhan said.
The Huskies’ Alex Smith also got into it with the Falcons’ McLain, with Smith receiving a cross-checking double minor and game misconduct, but McLain, a senior, was able to remain composed enough to only receive one minor penalty for roughing.
“We talk to our guys about keeping level headed all the time,” Bergeron said. “But those are two teams that don’t like each other and they’re 20-year-old boys. The game was … on the scoreboard … I don’t want to say out of reach, but when it really boiled over there, at the end, it was out of reach.”
“We respect them. I believe they respect us. Two teams, trying as hard as they can – that’s what happens.”
Bowling Green moves to 17-8-6 overall and 14-4-5-2 in WCHA play. The Falcons now sit tied atop the conference standings with 49 points, equal to that of Northern Michigan, which is idle this weekend.
Michigan Tech, which has now dropped the last four out of six contests, falls to 13-12-5 overall and 9-9-5-2 in conference actions.
Coming into the last month of the season, it is definitely grind time. “The bumps and bruises hurt a little more, it’s really dragging right now; coach is yelling a little bit louder,” Ford said. “You don’t necessarily want to go get cross-checked, but it pays off. It shows a lot that our guys are wiling to do it.”