Falcons drop final regular season series to WMU

Sean Shapiro and Sean Shapiro

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – The Falcons finished their regular season Central Collegiate Hockey Association schedule with a pair of losses to Western Michigan, 5-2 and 5-3, locking in BG’s spot at last place in the playoff pairings. On Friday night, the Falcons outplayed the Broncos, but five unanswered goals doomed the Falcons. Getting goals from James Perkin and Kai Kantola, the Falcons looked in good position to win as they led 2-0 for most of the game. But two goals 90 seconds apart in the second and an early third period goal gave Bronco goalie Riley Gill all he needed for the win. On the night BG outshot Western 42-23, but BG coach Scott Paluch wasn’t happy with the amount of scoring chances. ‘We generated a lot of chances, but I did not think we shot the puck with enough authority to score goals,’ Paluch said. Saturday, Western completed the sweep as five Bronco freshmen recorded at least one point. BG carried the majority of the play in the opening stanza Saturday, but good penalty killing and strong goaltending allowed the Broncos to escape the period tied at one. Gill turned away 17 shots in the period, while the defense in front of him helped kill BG’s first four power plays. ‘They did a good job,’ Paluch said. ‘They worked hard to block shots and kill off our power plays.’ Despite only registering five shots on net in the period, the Broncos still scored as freshman J.J. Crew snuck a weak backhand shot between the post and BG goalie Nick Eno’s right leg at the 15:32 mark. After the Crew goal, BG continued to pressure the Bronco defense and finally converted on their fifth power play of the period. Perkin tied the game at one with a wrist shot that snuck between the arm and body of Gill. In the second, BG continued to pressure early. The Falcons’ constant pressure paid off as Dan Sexton crashed the net hard and poked the rebound past Gill. The assist went to Solway who took the initial shot. It seemed BG had a chance to double their lead as Sexton was taken down after the goal. However on the ensuing power play the Broncos turned the tables and picked up a goal of their own. Bronco freshman Ian Slater stole the puck at the Western blue line, out skated his defender and slid the tying goal through the legs of Eno. Five minutes later Crew set up fellow freshman Kyle O’Kane for a tie-breaking goal. O’Kane fired a point blank wrist shot that beat Eno along the ice glove side. ‘That was crucial, it got us momentum in the game,’ Crew said. With just over four minutes remaining in the second the Falcons tied the game at three, as Sexton made a strong move around the net and found open line mate Brandon Svendsen who buried the puck past Gill. Crew continued his superb game in the third as he set up line mate Jared Katz for what proved to be the game-winning goal. Crew was able to fight through the Falcon defense and found Katz right in front of the net, which beat Eno five-hole. With the regular season coming to a close, BG will head to Columbus for the first round of the CCHA playoffs after Ohio State lost to Miami Saturday night.