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Hockey sweeps weekend matchup

Good things really do come to those who wait.

The Falcon hockey team proved this by winning both games of its home-and-home series against Western Michigan University in overtime this weekend. The wins came as their first against a Central Collegiate Hockey Association opponent this season.

BG trailed the Broncos on two different occasions Friday night in Kalamazoo, but came from behind to win in overtime 3-2. Saturday night it was WMU (2-4-0) who trailed for most of the game, but once again, the Falcons (3-2-0) emerged from overtime with a 5-4 victory.

The Falcons never actually gained a lead in regulation play on Friday, as Western struck first on a power play late in the first period. They held that slim lead until Tomas Petruska managed to score with his only shot of the game with eight minutes to go in the second period.

Max Campbell, a freshman selected in the fifth round this year by the New York Rangers, scored what proved to be the final Bronco goal of the game eight minutes into the third period. Then it was Nick Eno who, during his second career start in goal for the Falcons, stopped seven third-period shots to hold off the Bronco offense and give his team a chance to win.

Enter David Solway.

The Falcons’ freshman forward from Green Bay, Wis., helped set up Mike Nesdill’s game-tying goal late in the third period to force overtime. Chris Frank committed Western Michigan’s seventh penalty of the game shortly into overtime and gave the Falcons yet another opportunity to cash in on the power play.

Though they had failed the first six times, Solway made sure that did not happen again. He put in a rebound just 15 seconds after the power play started and sent his team back to BGSU with a solid comeback victory.

“I think that’s one of the issues playing at home,” Solway said of Western’s collapse. “I think that being a road team, being down a goal or being tied coming down the stretch, is right where you want to be in a place like this, and tonight it worked out well for us.”

Unfortunately for BG, this played in the Broncos’ favor the next night when they faced a 4-0 deficit going into the third. Once again the teams would end up in overtime after Western rallied in the final 20 minutes to make it 4-4.

The Falcons’ lead, built in the first two periods on goals by James Perkin, Kevin Schmidt, John Mazzei and Jake Cepis, quickly melted away. The Broncos opened the third with two quick power play goals in as many minutes to make it 4-2.

Despite taking only seven shots in the entire period, the Broncos managed to put four of them past goalie Jimmy Spratt. Western’s third goal came at 7:35 on a high slap shot from about 25 feet out that went in off the bottom of the crossbar. Intense back-and-forth action ensued throughout the middle of the third period, but neither team was able to score.

With 10 seconds remaining, however, there was a scramble around the Falcon goal and the puck fell into the net from several feet above the crossbar. Officials reviewed the play for several minutes, but ruled that the puck had apparently rolled in off of a BG player’s back.

“That’s a strange hockey game for a goalie to have to play,” said coach Scott Paluch. “Jimmy gave us two more chances [in overtime] after they tied it up. There was a bouncy puck and there was one where they came out of the corner. He makes those saves, and that gives us a chance to win.”

BG found yet another hero in overtime this weekend when Kevin Schmidt made an offensive rush almost four minutes into the extra frame.

“It was kind of a letdown there going into overtime,” Schmidt said. “I was just trying to get active in the play, and Todd McIlrath saw me jumping up and gave me a really beautiful pass, and I was able to just walk in and get a pretty good shot off.”

The goal was Schmidt’s third point on the night and sixth of the season, putting him atop the team’s production leaders. Coach Paluch expects more of the same offensive production from his sophomore defenseman in the future.

“It was a big focus in the offseason and Schmidty’s a guy that has a lot of skills and good feet,” Paluch said. “So far this year, he’s really involved offensively, he’s been strong on the power play, and then also joining the rush to win a hockey game. It’s a pretty good feeling.”

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