Cooler heads prevail in Falcons’ 5-2 win over Michigan Tech

Dawn Violet Todd and Dawn Violet Todd

Coming off of last weekend with their first back-to-back losses against Bemidji State, the Falcons looked to bounce back in their series this weekend against Michigan Tech. They succeeded on Friday night, off the back of two goals scored by team captain, Connor Ford.

For their part, the Huskies were looking to get some revenge for their ruined win streak, which came to an end after the Falcons’ win on the night prior.

Bowling Green was able to hold strong, and took Saturday’s contest in a 5-2 victory. They did this behind strong performances from Alex Barber, with two goals and one assist, and Gavin Gould, who scored one himself.

Gould is a former member of the Michigan Tech Hockey program, and came to Bowling Green in his senior year, now a graduate student. He knew that this series would be an emotional one for him, but that he would still ultimately have a job to do

“It was definitely emotional. It’s always hard playing friends out there, one of them I actually lived with, Justin Misiak,” said Gould. “At the end of the day, once the puck drops, it’s like any other team.”

The first period saw the Falcons get frustrated despite their shooting success. Straight out of the gate, both teams were willing to play a chippy game, forcing one another to throw hits and get messy in order to gain puck control. 

This tone paid off quickly for the Huskies, who were able to make the Falcons’ start be a sloppy one. They connected on a goal at just two minutes in, with Michigan Tech’s Tristan Ashbrook netting this game’s first goal.

After scoring, the Huskies kept the pressure up, constantly breaking up plays and turning over multiple pucks. Bowling Green would get a little bit of relief in the form of a few Huskies penalties, first to Ryland Mosley and later to Jake Crespi.

After the Huskies had succeeded in stalling out three minutes of the Falcons powerplay, the Falcons turned up the heat in the last 60 seconds of Crespi’s penalty. With the man advantage, Bowling Green fired off shot after shot, driving to the net four times, with each one being just inches from connecting. Finally, with two seconds remaining in the powerplay, Barber made a beautiful redirection up close to finally put one past goalie Blake Pietila, and tie the game at one.

Just as they were gaining momentum, however, BG’s Evan Dougherty was called for a rare unsportsmanlike behavior penalty, which resulted in a quick response goal for Michigan Tech by junior Alec Broetzman.

As the teams were both starting to get into the groove of things, it was clear that if things continued the way they were going, the Falcons would be in trouble.  

Gould affirmed that in the intermission, they knew that a shift in mindset was needed. 

“We talked about hitting the restart button and playing It just came down to coming back and regrouping and playing the way we know how to play,” he said.  

Coming into the second with a 2-1 lead, the Huskies’ start was a bit dicey, as a turnover nearly led to a goal for the Falcons just 30 seconds into the period. Michigan Tech, however, were bailed out early on by Pietila, who looked cool as a cucumber despite massive shooting volume by the Falcons.

Although the goaltenders seemed to be keeping cool heads, the same could not be said of the skaters, who by the second were regularly getting into scrums, and connecting on some huge open-ice hits. That said, from this point on it would be the Huskies who took most of the game’s penalties.

BGSU head coach Ty Eigner knew that it was a key part of their game later on to show restraint.

“You have to be able to put the team before whatever it is you’re angry about at that moment,” Eigner said.

With the Huskies being out-shot, out-hit and out-skated, they called an early-period timeout to try and straighten things out. This didn’t help much, as Tech then took two penalties almost back-to-back, giving the Falcons four minutes of powerplay time. While they didn’t connect early on, they were clearly getting into their groove, and beginning to properly test Pietila.

Later on, the Huskies received yet another penalty, this time to Brett Thorne. Bowling Green got the window to tie up the game, with Gould scoring a spectacular goal up close against his former team. Eigner acknowledged Gould’s investment, and the importance of his goal.

“It’s been a long time since he was on their team, and it meant a lot to him I know to play them,” he said.

Now rallying around their momentum, Alex Barber would score his second of the game, tucking away a deep shot from Cameron Wells to get a much-needed even-strength goal that would also be the go-ahead-goal, putting the Falcons up 3-2 going into the final period.

With just 10 minutes to play, Brandon Kruse took a slashing penalty, and it appeared to be the chance that Michigan Tech had been looking for. It would turn out to be much the contrary.

A takeaway in the neutral zone gave BG’s Sam Craggs a one-on-one chance to score. He sniped it past Pietira to score unassisted and put the Falcons up 4-2, just 30 seconds into killing their own penalty.

The Huskies would pull their goaltender for an extra attacker, which they weren’t able to capitalize on. With two minutes to go, Connor Ford wrestled up the puck and dumped in the empty net goal to seal the win 5-2 for BGSU.

The Falcons’ offense as a whole did great work in this victory, putting up 40 shots to Michigan Tech’s 17.

Coming up for the Falcons is their toughest opponent yet, No. 3 Minnesota State. The teams will play two games in Mankato on Friday and Saturday.