While it’s still early in the season, the Falcons could ill afford another letdown weekend. Mark Cooper and a seven minute penalty kill helped propel the Falcons to a pivotal two points over the Mavericks.
Sophomore Tommy Burke started in net for the Falcons stopping 21 of 24 shots while Mavericks freshman Cole Huggins stopped 21 of 25 Falcon attempts.
“I don’t think either team had their best night…we’ll take the result but we’ll go back to work tomorrow thinking we can elevate our game,” Coach Bergeron said after the tilt. The Falcons held the shot advantage after the first period (7-6) but seemed to be sleepwalking at times as the Mavericks piled up zone time.
Minnesota State opened the scoring at 10:33 of the first period. After a strong forecheck where the Falcons were unable to clear their own zone, Matt Leitner found defenseman Sean Flanagan who had pinched up into the slot and found the net. The Mavericks added a second goal just three minutes later on the power play. Bryce Gervais took a pass across the points from Zach Palmquist and slapped a shot to Jean-Paul Lafontaine who tipped the puck just under Burke’s pad.
When asked about what he told his team during the first intermission, Bergeron gave a surprising answer: “I didn’t say one word. That’s a situation where Cam Wojtala said ‘I got it’ and that’s what you expect from your senior captain.” Evan Pivnick spoke to Wojtala after the first period before the captain addressed his team:
With the team focused for the second period, it didn’t take long for Bowling Green to get on the board. At just :16 of the second period Ralfs Freibergs shot from the blueline. His shot deflected into the boards behind the net, and Mark Cooper knocked the puck in while in midair. “We’ve been struggling on the power play…it was good to get a power play to spark us,” Cooper said after the game.
Bowling Green was able to tie it up at 6:47 of the second. With the Mavericks winded from an icing and an aggressive Falcon forecheck, Matt Pohlkamp fed Mark Cooper who was skating across the slot and beat Huggins. Coach Bergeron described the long Maverick shift: “We were able to change and they weren’t able to. It was a good push, a good stretch of a minute twenty or so…that’s the way we have to play.”
The Falcons were able to avoid disaster at 11:05 of the second period. Sean Walker was called for a hook and then checking from behind, earning him a game misconduct and seven total minutes of penalty kill time for Bowling Green. The Falcons played an aggressive penalty kill and were able to kill all seven minutes without giving up a goal. “At that time in a 2-2 game it was a really gritty penalty kill. You approach it two forwards and two “D” at a time.”
With the Falcons riding momentum Evan spoke to Adam Berkle, who had a three point night (1g,2a):
Coincidentally Adam Berkle gave Bowling Green the lead at 5:16 of the third period while shorthanded. After causing a turnover at the Falcon blueline, Berkle skated the puck down the halfboards before snapping a shot past Huggins on his blocker side. But, the Mavericks tied the game back up at 11:37. Zach Stepan shot from an extreme angle near the goal line and managed to get the puck past Burke. With neither team able to score the rest of the third period the game went to an overtime.
With both teams getting shots at either zone it was Marc Cooper capping his night with a hat trick goal at 4:28. Cooper was able to beat Huggins for the OT winner as he skated below the goal line and sent a shot that appeared to bounce of Huggins shoulder into the net. The sophomore was all smiles after the game winner: “I haven’t scored in awhile so it’s a little bit of a monkey off the back. To get the winning goal in overtime is pretty special.”
Coach Bergeron was critical of Cooper’s first period but was happy to see him turn it around in the second, “He started slow. His first period was not his best. That goal got him going. Mark’s a sophomore that’s played 14 games and he’s still figuring it out.” Cooper was modest after the game, happy with the victory: “It shows a lot about our team, our character, that we stuck with it. We were able to squeeze out a win”
Post Game Pressers
Sophomore Forward Mark Cooper