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BG24 Newscast
September 21, 2023

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BG24 Newscast
September 21, 2023

BG can’t overcome luck of Irish

The BG hockey team fell to Notre Dame last night by a score of 4-2 in the first Central Collegiate Hockey Association match of the year for each team.

The Fighting Irish, ranked 12th in the nation coming into the game, came out slowly in the first period, a common trait for them so far this season. BG played well in the first 10 minutes of the period, but missed several opportunities. Among these missed chances was a Derek Whitmore shot off the crossbar that brought the University Ice Arena crowd alive early in the game.

Nonetheless, Falcon forward Dan Sexton rewarded fans in attendance with five minutes left in the first period when he took a back-door pass in the left slot from Derek Whitmore. Sexton fired the puck into the net after receiving help from his teammates who were screening Notre Dame goalie Jordan Pearce, and then celebrated by proudly pointing to the large Falcon on his jersey.

The crowd’s noise level dropped slightly three minutes later when Mark Van Guilder, the Fighting Irish captain, flipped the puck over BG goalie Jimmy Spratt’s right shoulder. However, about a minute before this game-tying goal, something else occurred that helped to change the momentum of the game.

Kai Kantola, one of Bowling Green’s top forwards this year, crushed Irish defenseman Luke Lucyk along the boards and received a five minute major with a game disqualification.

“Unfortunately for our team, it kind of took the wind out of our sails,” Whitmore said. “Still, it’s a 60 minute hockey game, and you can’t let five minutes affect how you go about your business.”

Whitmore, a tri-captain this year, would put his team back on top early in the second period with a breakaway goal that came during a delayed penalty call. The tally was the first that Notre Dame has allowed in the second period through five games this season. Sexton also assisted on this play for Whitmore, giving the new line of Sexton, Whitmore, and Todd McIlrath instant chemistry.

“It was the first time we ever played on a line in a game together,” Whitmore said. “Danny’s a tenacious hockey player who’s always flying around, and that’s the guy you want to have on your line who’s going to go into corners to get the pucks to you.”

After the second Whitmore-Sexton point combination, however, all the scoring became the luck of the Irish.

Garrett Regan scored a minute after Whitmore when he slid the puck past a sprawling Spratt to make it 2-2. Then, near the end of an intense second period, Evan Rankin scored the game-winning goal when his shot found its way under Spratt’s pads. However, Paluch didn’t lay much of the blame for the loss on his goalie.

“I thought Jimmy was fine,” Paluch said. “The one caught him by surprise in the second period, but other than that he was fine.”

Erik Condra notched a shorthanded marker with five minutes remaining in the third period, effectively putting the game out of reach for BG.

“We played BG at the end of last year, and those were two of the toughest games we had the whole second half,” Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said. “I knew they were going to be tough, and I don’t look at rankings because you can throw those right out the window.”

However, the Falcons will obviously need to prove themselves in the CCHA before they can think about doing any of that. Spending half the game sitting in the penalty box is not exactly a way to accomplish this, something that Paluch is aware of.

“I thought we had the right energy and the right focus at the start of the game,” Paluch said. “Ultimately the penalties that we took kind of took a little steam out of our team when we were forced to play too many players early on in the game.”

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