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Wolverines upset by late BG goal

Rewards have been few and far between for the BG hockey team this season, but the hard work and improved play of the team finally paid dividends on Friday in the form of a 3-2 victory over No. 9 Michigan.

Forward Tomas Petruska flipped a rebound over Wolverine goalie Billy Sauer’s shoulder and under the crossbar for a game-winning score with 35 seconds remaining in regulation. The power-play goal completed BG’s (6-24-2, 4-19-1) first-third period comeback win of the season and ended a 10-game (0-9-1) winless streak.

“The puck landed on my stick and I just shot it,” Petruska said. “The team just came together, and that’s what we have been looking for the whole year.”

It was a total team effort in the come from behind victory for the Falcons, with the Wolverines (21-8-0, 16-7-0) jumping out to a lead 1:14 into the first and holding a 2-1 lead, deep into the final period.

The Falcons were able to stay in the game with six different skaters recording points, including a goal from Kevin Schmidt in the first and one from Derek Whitmore to tie the score at two goals apiece with 6:35 left in the game. Jonathan Matsumoto contributed with two assists and Petruska, James Unger and John Mazzei also added assists.

The BG offense took advantage of another strong performance by goalie Jimmy Spratt, who continued his strong play of the past few weekends. The sophomore stopped 31 of 33 Michigan shots, including several breakaways and odd-man rushes that kept BG going toe-to-toe with the Wolverines.

The Falcons’ victory is even more striking if Michigan’s 5-0 victory over BG on Jan. 9 is taken into account.

“They are a tough team to play at home, but I think we are a tough team to play at home when we get the support behind us,” Spratt said. “I also think we are playing a lot better since the last time we saw them.”

The 3,341 people in attendance saw BG outshoot Michigan 35 to 31 for the game and kill all three of the Wolverine’s chances with the man-advantage, playing a smart and disciplined game throughout.

For Michigan coach Red Berenson, the difference in the Falcons’ play was

obvious.

“I was impressed with their team tonight,” Berenson said. “They played hard, they were fast. They should be getting heck from their coach for playing the way they haven’t played, because they played well tonight.”

The two points in the standings does not move BG out of last place in the CCHA, however. With four games remaining in the regular season, the Falcons begin to turn their focus to the conference playoffs.

“I think it’s so important that our team was able to feel the award for a real strong performance. Obviously it’s been difficult this season to earn the points and the rewards,” said BG coach Scott Paluch. “” we have got to be as good as we can be come March 2 [CCHA playoffs, 1st round], and this is going to go a long way confidence wise. This gives us an opportunity to build and learn that we can pull out wins in these situations.”

BG hits the road this weekend for a pair of games against Ferris State in Big Rapids, MI. The Bulldogs sit in 11th place in the CCHA, five points ahead of the Falcons in the standings.

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