BG hockey team advances to WCHA Final Five

Corey Krupa and Corey Krupa

The BG hockey team will advance to the WCHA Final Five playoff series in Minnesota this weekend, following a weekend series sweep at home against Northern Michigan last weekend. The Falcons will face Michigan Tech, who is currently ranked fourth in the nation.

“What I like is that the bar continues to get set,” head coach Chris Bergeron said. “We expect to play at home in the playoffs; we expect to win at home in the playoffs. That means that the future looks good.”

In Friday’s playoff opener, freshman Tyler Spezia scored the overtime game-winner to give BG a 3-2 victory over Northern Michigan.

“I happened to get the puck on my backhand,” Spezia said. “I took a step out and put it under the bar. I blacked out to be honest.”

The goal came with less than 30 seconds left in the first overtime period. Seniors Dan DeSalvo and Adam Berkle recorded assists on the goal.

Both teams were scoreless in the second period, until the Wildcats scored to give them a 1-0 advantage. Mitch McClain answered with a goal halfway through the third period to tie the game 1-1.

Later in the third period, Northern Michigan scored to take a 2-1 lead with less than four minutes in regulation. However, Mark Cooper scored an unassisted goal with 1:24 left in the game to force overtime.

That’s where the Falcons came out victorious behind Spezia’s goal to take the first game of the series. BG goalie Tommy Burke recorded 38 saves in the win.

In Saturday’s playoff game, the Falcons once again found themselves trailing 1-0 about midway in the second period. But, Tyler Spezia scored 1:04 later to tie the game 1-1.

“To come back right away and Tyler Spezia just finds a way,” Bergeron said.

Brandon Hawkins scored two consecutive goals to increase BG’s lead 3-1 later in the game. Then late in the third period on the power play, Brent Tate scored and the Falcons won 4-1 to win the home playoff series.

Tommy Burke recorded 19 saves in the game. With the win, his career playoff record is now 4-1 and he has a .940 save percentage in the postseason.

BG’s season continues this Friday at the Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota against Michigan Tech. The puck drops at 5:07 p.m. for the Semifinal of the WCHA tournament.

If the Falcons are unable to win the WCHA tournament this weekend, they will look to secure an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.