Hockey defeats Bemidji


Junior forward Kevin Dufour

Zane Miller and Zane Miller

The Bowling Green men’s hockey team made history on Friday and Saturday night, defeating the Bemidji State Beavers in both games to bring home their first ever victories in Bemidji.

The Falcons had an overall record of 4-3-1 against Bemidji State in all their meetings, but were 0-3-1 on the road until this weekend’s series.

“I was proud of the effort,” head coach Chris Bergeron said. “We haven’t played well in that building at all, we didn’t start on Saturday as well as we did on Friday, but we hung on there, and (sophomore goaltender) Chris Nell was good early, we were opportunistic and scored a couple goals in the second period.”

On Friday, sophomore forwards Mitch McLain and Brandon Hawkins scored for the Falcons in the first period at 3:51 and 19:21 respectively, to give the Falcons a 2-0 lead which they would not look back from. Freshman forward Stephen Baylis scored his first collegiate goal at 14:47 of the third.

“We did a good job of being opportunistic around their net and scoring goals,” Bergeron said. “They weren’t handed to us by any means, we did a good job of creating opportunities and creating chances.”

On Saturday, both teams went scoreless through the first period before Falcons junior forward Pierre-Luc Mercier broke through at 10:01 of the second to give the team the lead. Freshman forward John Schilling scored another goal at 17:32 of the same period as the Falcons won 2-0.

“These are huge wins,” Bergeron said. “We were a little bit concerned about our players worrying about Christmas break and focusing on going home and not staying focused on the series, but I thought coming out of the box, our guys did a great job of staying in the moment and focusing on the games and ultimately they’re huge wins.”

Nell made 42 saves on 43 shots throughout the two games, including a shutout on Saturday to earn his sixth career shutout, putting him just behind the Falcons’ all-time shutout record of seven held by Tyler Masters and current National Hockey League goaltender Andrew Hammond.

“He was really good overall,” Bergeron said. “I thought we defended well both nights, and Chris was there all weekend long.”

Bemidji State remains in eighth place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with a conference record of 4-8-2, while the Falcons have moved up a spot in the standings up to second place in the WCHA, now holding a 8-2-4 conference record.

The Falcons will take a two and a half week break before playing in their next game, a non-conference matchup against the Western Michigan Broncos at the Huntington Center in Toledo on Wednesday, Dec. 30.