TOLEDO — Bowling Green’s struggle to score goals resumed Wednesday night.
The Falcons had 35 shots on goal, but failed to solve Western Michigan goalie Lukas Hafner in a 1-0 loss at the Huntington Center.
BG had plenty of quality scoring chances, especially in the third period.
Hafner had 16 saves in the third period, but played well from start to finish. The senior made eight saves in the first period and 11 in the second period. The Falcons also hit the post in the third period.
“We had a tough night around their net,” Falcon coach Chris Bergeron said. “He was really good, but we had opportunities to score and weren’t able to.”
The Falcons are averaging just 2.35 goals per game, scoring two or fewer goals in 13 of their 20 games. They’ve scored zero or one goal five times.
“There’s opportunities where I’d like to see us bear down in front of their net. It’s that simple,” Bergeron said.
“We struggled to score in the first half. We can’t make that something that is going to continue in the second half,” BG sophomore forward Mitch McLain said. “We have to find a way to bear down.”
The BG power play was 0 of 3, including a two-man advantage for 31 seconds in the third period with Western holding a 1-0 lead.
The Falcons didn’t have a shot on goal during the 5 on 3. They missed the net from the top of the circles on one attempt and Western blocked another shot.
“That’s concerning. That’s an opportunity we let slip away,” Bergeron said.
The Falcons had the puck on the perimeter during the 5 on 3, passing the puck until they thought they had the perfect shot.
“They were overthinking it,” Bergeron said. “They had three had guys out there. We had five and we’re trying to force a puck through one of their guys. There’s got to be somebody else open.”
The Falcon power play is 0 of 12 in the last four games and has scored on just 10 of its 69 chances this season.
HE’S BACK: BG goalie Tommy Burke saw his first action since Nov. 14 when he took over for the injured Chris Nell with 17:51 remaining in the second period.
“It’s hard because you’re not in the preparation that you would be if you were starting,” Burke said. “But I go through the same (mental and physical) preparation each game if I play or if I don’t, so that helps me.”
Burke had 13 saves in the second period and one in the third period.
The only Bronco goal came at 13:12 of the second period after Burke entered the game with 1:27 to go on a Western power play.
“In a perfect world, you’d come in and face a few outside shots,” Burke said. “But it was good to get a few shots.”
Nell had started nine straight games and 12 of the last 13 contests. Burke’s last start was a 30-save effort in a 3-2 win at Michigan Tech.
“It was good to get back in there and see some shots,” Burke said. “Chris has been our best player by a mile. He’s probably been the best player in the league by a mile. You have to keep riding him.”
Burke, who finished last season as BG’s No. 1 goalie, has a 3-2 record in five games this season with a 2.81 goals-against average and an .899 save percentage.
“It was nice to get back in there and battle for our guys when I haven’t been able to as much as I have in the past,” said Burke, who has a career 2.40 goals-against and a .910 save percentage in 71 games.
DEBUTS: BG freshmen Adam Smith and Jordan Ernst both made their debuts on defense. The two joined the team for the second half of the season after playing junior hockey during the first half.
“(Smith) got better as the game went on. (Ernst) was fine,” Bergeron said. “It’s just going take a little bit of time (for them to adjust to college hockey).”
STREAK ENDED: BG, ranked 12th nationally, saw its nine-game unbeaten streak ended.
The Falcons were 7-0-2 in that span, their last loss coming Nov. 13 at Michigan Tech.
BG is 11-4-5 overall, while Western won its third straight game to improve to 8-10-1.
NOT AGAIN: Hafner and Western beat the Falcons for the second time this season.
He stopped 60 of 61 shots in the two games, making 25 saves in a 4-1 win at Western Oct. 13.
Hafner, who is from Toledo, is the cousin of former Falcon defenseman Rusty Hafner.
SHOTS: Tyler Spezia and Mark Friedman each had five shots for the Falcons, while McLain and Matt Pohlkamp each had four, and Chris Pohlkamp and Brandon Hawkins each had three.,
The Broncos blocked 19 of BG’s 68 attempted shots in the game. BG also missed the net 13 times.
NEXT: The Falcons host Clarkson in a nonleague series Saturday at 7:07 and Sunday at 5:07 p.m.
The Golden Knights are 7-8-2 overall and 0-5-2 in the Eastern College Athletic Conference. They’ve lost four straight, including a 3-0 loss to No. 8 UMass-Lowell and a 5-1 loss to No. 14 Penn State earlier this week in the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh.