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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Falcons fight for series split against No. 8 Irish

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Since the beginning of the spring semester, the BG hockey team has been nothing short of consistent.

The Falcons have picked up points in every weekend – four total against Ohio State, three against Alaska and three against Western Michigan. That recent upswing continued this past weekend, as the Falcons picked up three points in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association by splitting a weekend series with No. 8 Notre Dame – a 2-1 loss Friday night and a 3-2 come-from-behind win Saturday night.

“We’re trying to convince our guys to stay to the plan and that things are going to work out properly,” said coach Chris Bergeron following Saturday night’s win. “From the confidence piece, I think a victory like this on a night that maybe didn’t seem to be our night in the beginning, I think it can go a long way.”

Friday night, the Falcons were able to match the Irish stride for stride from the get-go. Solid defense for the Falcons led to a pair of strong scoring chances for forward Ted Pletsch.

Early in the first, good zone defensive play and a strong outlet pass sprung Pletsch into a one-on-one situation. He fought off a Notre Dame defenseman to get off an in-close shot, but was denied by Irish goalie Mike Johnson.

About three minutes later, Pletsch blocked a point shot from Notre Dame defenseman Sean Lorenz. He quickly corralled the puck and skated in on a breakaway, but was once again stuffed by Johnson.

“It’s just the way we go up to the point, we lead with our stick and hope to block the shot,” Pletsch said. “Fortunately that’s what happened, it hit my foot, but unfortunately I couldn’t get [the puck] in there.”

However, Pletsch would eventually capitalize, scoring his fourth goal of the season with just under two minutes to go in the second period to tie the game at one.

The goal capped a strong second period for the Falcons, who outshot the Irish 9-6 in the frame and had several strong scoring chances.

“[Pletsch] has been given an opportunity to play with two of our top players and he’s taken advantage of it,” Bergeron said. “It was a real strong play on the goal, which is exactly what we want him to be; be hard on pucks and take the puck to the net, which is exactly what he did.”

Late in the first period, the Irish were able to solve Hammond, but it took a broken play to do so.

Notre Dame forward Anders Lee threw a puck up the ice and it was deflected, eventually sliding behind the BG defense. T.J. Tynan fought through the Falcons defense to pick up the puck before tucking the shot low glove side on Hammond for his 12th goal of the season.

The Irish went ahead for good five minutes into the third period. David Gerths unloaded a shot from the right circle, and it was tipped in front by Irish forward Nick Larson, striking the underside of the crossbar and entering the net.

“It was just one of those plays in the defensive zone where they get a tip and we don’t have the stick picked up,” Bergeron said.

While Friday’s game was relatively clean – both teams had only two power play opportunities apiece – Saturday’s game was anything but, particularly in the first period.

Undisciplined play from the Falcons allowed the Irish to have four power play opportunities in the first period, including three in the first 10 minutes of the game.

Notre Dame finally took advantage of the Falcons’ discretions midway through the period, when Robbie Russo’s point shot beat Hammond to put the Irish up 1-0.

While the Falcons had three power plays of their own, the Irish owned the first period, outshooting the Falcons 13-8.

“I was disappointed with our discipline,” Bergeron said. “Some of the penalties we took were poor. In the first 10 minutes of the game, Andrew Hammond kept us in there. Notre Dame came out flying and were going to finish us off the first 10 minutes, but we didn’t allow that to happen.”

Cam Wojtala tied the game for the Falcons late in the first period with his seventh goal of the season.

While they were able to amass 13 shots in the first period, the Irish almost seemed to burn themselves out, totaling only nine shots in the final two periods. And while they were able to take the lead in the second on a goal from Stephen Johns, they appeared to be out of gas in the third period.

That is when Ryan Carpenter took over.

The freshman hadn’t scored a goal in 15 games, dating back to Nov. 19 against Miami. He broke that slump in a huge way, notching two goals in the third period, including the winner with just under two minutes to go in regulation, to seal the comeback win for BG.

“It’s definitely nice … my linemates worked really hard tonight,” Carpenter said. “Whenever you’re going through a drought, we’ve had a lot of guys stepping up as of recent. So we don’t really care who scores, as long as we’re scoring more than the other team.”

Adam Berkle continued his recent strong play with a pair of assists, and Hammond stopped 20 of 22 shots he faced. He stopped 12 of 13 shots in the first period.

“We kind of took a step back there in the first; they came out hard and we were expecting that, but we weren’t expecting them to come out that hard,” Hammond said. “We weathered it and we got out of the first period in a tie … and obviously we came out hard in the third and we had a really good effort.

“We’re not afraid of anyone anymore, and that’s something, that maybe my first two years I could say we’d be intimidated [against top teams]. We’ve really added to our confidence by having good effort after good effort, so now that we’re stringing along we’re building confidence and it’s showing up on the ice.”

The Falcons will be back in action this weekend at home, taking on Northern Michigan in a two-game set.

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