Brandon Hawkins’ first goal of the season couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for Bowling Green.
The sophomore forward scored from the deep slot 2:52 into overtime Friday to give the Falcons a 3-2 victory over Alabama-Huntsville in the Ice Arena.
Hawkins sent a laser past UAH goalie Matt Larose on the stick side and just inside the left post. The power-play goal was set up by Brent Tate, who screened Larose on the play and earlier forced a Charger turnover to set up Hawkins’ shot.
“It’s a big deal in my mind. I’m a mental midget sometimes,” Hawkins said of scoring his first goal of the season. “When I finally get that monkey off my back, hopefully, I can set something rolling.”
Hawkins led BG with 16 goals and 30 points last season, but had only two assists in his first 10 games this season. The 5-foot-10, 195-pounder didn’t play last Saturday because of a lower-body injury suffered the previous night.
Hawkins had gone three straight games without a point.
“He’s a pretty dangerous player,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said. “We thought the power play might help him get going a bit, at least get him some good looks. He gets a look like that and that result very often is what the result was tonight.
“He’s been squeezing and pressing, and wanted to get that goal. Hopefully, that will get him going.”
Hawkins was questionable for the series starting the week and began Tuesday’s practice in a red jersey (no contact). But by the end of that practice, we was in a black jersey, meaning full contact.
“Monday, I put it in my mind that I was going to try my hardest to get my skates on Tuesday,” Hawkins said. “By the end of Tuesday’s practice, I felt pretty good and went full contact. That was it and it was like I’m going to go Friday.”
TEAM MEETING: The Falcons, who didn’t play well, held a players-only meeting after the contest.
“We’ve been going through a little rough patch,” Hawkins said, declining to reveal the specifics of the meeting.
“It’s within us to bring each other up and pick each other up, and I feel that’s how we’ll come out tomorrow… with a little more confidence and with some bite behind our punch,” Hawkins added.
When asked why the team meeting was called after a win, Hawkins said: “That’s probably not a win that we would consider a win in our book just because of the way it happened. We’re a team that where we want to come out and work as hard as we can no matter what.
“Most of the time tonight, we were a little bit in between. We had guys going on different lines. We need everyone going at the same time.”
REVIEW: BG continued its inconsistent play this season. It played well in a few spurts, but wasn’t sharp overall. There was one three-minute stretch in the second period where BG was trapped in defensive zone.
“The result was what we wanted, but I don’t think we played very well,” Bergeron said. “We turned over way too many pucks. We’re trying to find our game and we’re struggling getting to it.”
UAH caused some of the turnovers and worked hard throughout the game, but BG still failed to generate consistent pressure in the offensive zone. The Falcons held a 28-18 edge in shots including the only four shots in overtime.
The Falcons, ranked 15th nationally, still improved to 6-3-3 overall and 3-2-2 in the WCHA. UAH is 3-5-1, 2-4-1.
POWER PLAY: The Falcons scored all of their goals on the power play, going 3 of 5 with the extra man. Both of BG’s power-play units scored against UAH. The other goals were scored by Kevin Dufour and Brett D’Andrea.
The BG power play is 5 of 9 in the last two games.
“Puck movement and being willing to work a lot harder than their penalty-killers.,” Hawkins said of why the power play was successful. “Our whole power play was working hard today.”
The Falcon power play entered Friday just 4 of 38, including two goals at Michigan Tech last Saturday, but it scored a bunch of power-play goals during Thursday’s practice.
“Our practice power play was a big deal,” Hawkins said of Thursday. “We had very good puck movement and everybody was zipping it around. We got shots and rebounds, and scored some rebounds. It carried over to today. You practice like you play.”
FIRST TIME: The goal was D’Andrea’s first of the season. The sophomore center was playing in just his fifth game.
LINEUP: Senior Ben Murphy and junior Pierre-Luc Mercier were healthy scratches for BG. Both were on one of BG’s top two forward lines at the start of the season, but haven’t played as well as expected.
The Falcons also shortened their bench and went with less than the full lineup of 12 forwards and six defensemen as the game went on.
“I’m really, really getting disappointed with that,” Bergeron said. “We’ve got individuals struggling. We’re still looking. We’re still searching.
“We’re still searching for that right lineup. Hopefully, people understand that we have depth and if they’re not getting it done, other people will.”
NELL: BG’s Chris Nell was in goal, stopping 16 shots, eight coming in the second period.
“He played well,” Bergeron said. “He was fighting the puck this week. He let in more soft goals, not a whole bunch, … It carried over a bit. I don’t think he look as on top of it and he has in the past.
“He’s not going to be the guy who is going to be the savior. We need everybody to raise their level.”
Although Nell has a 1.28 goals-against and a .953 save percentage, his record is just 3-2-3.
“What I liked about Chris’ performance is he found a way to win the game,” Nell said. “That is something that’s been eluding him a little bit. He’s played better than 3-2-3. He really has. He deserves it.”
PK: Both of UAH’s goals came on the power play as the Chargers were 2 of 5 with the extra man.
The Falcon penalty-killing is just 10 of 15 over the last four games.
BACK-TO-BACK: The Falcons have won back-to-back games for just the second time this season, coupled with last Saturday’s 2-0 victory at Michigan Tech.
BG opened the season with a sweep of Ohio State.