After Friday’s loss Falcons regroup, tie the Irish

After Friday night’s disappointing performance in which the Falcons allowed seven Notre Dame goals and plenty of odd-man rushes, it was time to find some answers Saturday night and find a way to get some of that winning confidence back.

It was gut-check time for the Falcons and Saturday morning the team met at the BGSU Ice Arena to do a little soul searching.

“Today we had a meeting with the coaching staff and players and they basically told us to take a look in the mirror,” BG forward Jonathan Matsumoto said. “They said we’re just giving up way too many odd-man chances defensively and that we really need to change our ways and I think tonight was a pretty good first step.”

The team responded to the challenge and played good, hard defensive hockey in front of goaltender Jimmy Spratt to help BG salvage a point against the Irish on the weekend in a 1-1 tie in front of 4,236 boisterous fans. The tie came a night after losing 7-4 Friday.

“We’re disappointed we didn’t get a win tonight, but we got a real good bounce-back effort,” BG coach Scott Paluch said. “It’s a step in the right direction in terms of what we were able to do defensively. We didn’t give up nearly the type of chances we gave up last night.”

The improved defensive play by both teams made the game more controllable than Friday’s and turned it into a goaltender’s battle.

Irish goaltender David Brown made 34 saves on the night while Spratt made 31 saves on 32 shots to earn first star honors.

After struggling most of the season with his adjustment to the college game, Spratt has put together back-to-back strong performances and is continuing to show a lot of promise for the future.

“I was very impressed with Spratt,” ND coach Jeff Jackson said. “I thought he looked big, he looked confident. Tonight, he showed what he’s capable of and why Bowling Green recruited him.”

“Jimmy did a great job of making himself pretty doggone big in [the net],” Paluch said of his freshman goalie’s performance. “Every time there was a shot, he seemed to take up a lot of net. His catching glove was very good tonight. He kept a lot of pucks close to him, jumped on a lot of pucks. There weren’t any holes in there.”

It took the Irish 51:43 to find the one hole they needed on the night as a Falcon breakdown created a 4-on-2 chance that Irish forward Josh Sciba took advantage of. Sciba stuck a loose rebound chance into the right side of the net after Matt Amado’s initial shot from the left side couldn’t be controlled by Spratt, as the Irish tied the game with just 8:17 left.

On the other end, Brown came up big as well for the Irish as the only goal against him came in the first period on a Falcon power play. Brown, one of the top Central Collegiate Hockey Association goaltenders, was benched the night before for freshman Jordan Pearce after battling sickness.

“He had a stomach virus,” Jackson said of Brown. “He’s still feeling some of the effects of it, so I give him a lot of credit for battling through that.”

BG’s lone goal came at the 8:31 mark of the first period as Alex Foster found the net on the power play to give BG a 1-0 early lead. He tipped in Matsumoto’s shot from just inside the left circle for his 10th goal of the season. Brandon Svendson assisted on the play.

The Falcon power play finished 1-4 on the night while the Irish went 0-5. BG held a 35-32 advantage in shots after out-shooting the Irish 5-0 in the extra five-minute frame.

The tie moved BG to 13-19-2 on the season with a CCHA record of 8-16-2 as a first round playoff road trip is guaranteed in two weeks following next weekend’s final two games against CCHA champion, Miami, as BG can only finish as high as 11th of the 12 league teams.