Falcon hockey falls to Notre Dame on the road

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Saturday night was the BG hockey team’s biggest game of the season, but it wasn’t up to the challenge.

The Falcons, needing a win to secure home-ice in the first round of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs, lost to Notre Dame, 4-1, on the Irish’s senior night.

BG out-shot Notre Dame 27-26, but lacked quality scoring chances throughout the game.

“Nowhere near good enough to win,” said BG coach Chris Bergeron. “No where near the level of fight I thought we were going to have with the opportunity we had.”

Notre Dame took control of the game in the second period, out-shooting the Falcons 13-4. BG goalie Andrew Hammond made several saves in the period to keep the game close.

However, the one mistake he made in the period cost BG a goal.

He went behind the net to play the puck, but it drastically slowed down before it got to him, forcing him to awkwardly play it. He passed it out behind the net, but found Notre Dame forward David Gerths, who scored from a bad angle.

“Andrew comes out to play the puck, and we give up a goal like that, it’s jut completely unacceptable,” Bergeron said.

The Falcons didn’t muster much of a counterattack in the period. The Irish controlled time of possession and suffocated the Falcons’ offense.

“We had a tough time getting the puck deep and getting to our game,” said BG forward Andrew Wallace, who scored the Falcons’ only goal of the game. “We didn’t take care of the puck, and against a team like Notre Dame … that can be a long night.”

The Falcons came out sluggish to start the first. Notre Dame carried possession for the first half of the period, and got on the board 5:31 into the game.

Robbie Russo threw a pass in front of the net that deflected off Mario Lucia and went through Hammond’s legs.

“[Notre Dame’s] push was great and you try to prepare these guys, but they were more prepared than we were,” Bergeron said.

Still trying to find their legs, the Falcons struggled for several more minutes before their fourth line gave them life.

Strong forecheck pressure by Ted Pletsch and Adam Berkle down low led to a loose puck in front of Notre Dame goalie Mike Johnson, who was sprawled on the ice. Wallace buried the rebound to tie the game at one.

“Everyone kind of collapsed on [Berkle] because he made such a power move to the net,” Wallace said. “I was able to sneak in late and just found a loose puck.”

Despite looking flat-footed and potentially nervous early, the Falcons got stronger as the first period went along, and out-shot the Irish 11-7 in the opening frame.

Notre Dame scored twice for good measure in the third period. Anders Lee scored three minutes into the period off a rebound, and Nick Larson scored with 2:23 left in the period.

Michigan picked up two points in the standings by beating Ferris State in a shootout to finish seventh in the league standings. Lake Superior beat Northern Michigan to finish eighth in the standings. The Falcons will be on the road at Lake Superior in the first round of the CCHA playoffs.