Bowling Green’s depth in goal is paying off.
Tommy Burke, starting in place of the injured Chris Nell, made 32 saves Saturday to help the Falcons to a 6-3 victory over Clarkson in the Ice Arena.
Nell is day-to-day with a head injury suffered Wednesday during 1-0 loss to Western Michigan at the Huntington Center in Toledo. The sophomore was hit in the head by the skate of a Western player in a goalmouth collision.
The contact knocked off Nell’s mask and left him prone on the ice. He hasn’t skated since.
Burke finished that game, stopping 14 of 15 shots in 36:06 and he then started against Clarkson in the first game of the nonleague series.
The senior made two rapid-fire point-blank saves against Clarkson in the first period with BG holding a 1-0 lead. The Falcons built their lead to 3-0 in the first period.
Burke’s appearance against Western was his first since Nov. 14 when he made 30 saves in a 3-2 win at Michigan Tech. The senior’s last start also was at Tech.
Nell had started nine straight games and 10 of BG’s last 13 contests before he was hurt.
“You kind of settle in as the backup,” Bergeron said of Burke. “You lose some of that focus in practice, then you get an opportunity and you’re trying to get that focus back. That’s where he is. He was fine. He got the win.”
Burke has been BG’s No. 1 goalie at times during his first three seasons. He entered this season as the No. 1 after finishing in that position last season.. He’s 4-2 in six games this season, posting a 2.85 goals-against and a .903 save percentage.
“That’s something he’s done during the whole course of time he’s been here, is make that save (when we need it to keep the lead),” Bergeron said. “I hope with a night like tonight, (Burke) can continue to gain confidence and be more of that everyday guy like he has been in the past when he was the number 1.”
Nell, who has started 16 of BG’s 21 games, leads the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with a 1.82 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage. He ranks fourth nationally in goals-against and fifth in save percentage.
When asked if Nell had a concussion, Bergeron said: “He has an upper-body injury that’s keeping him out.”
Junior Tomas Sholl, who hasn’t played in a game this season, was the backup against Clarkson.
“It’s a very competitive situation,” Falcon senior forward Ben Murphy said. “They all want to play. All those guys battle on a daily basis. I feel confident with any one of them in the net. They’re three great goaltenders. They know what it takes to win at that position.”
“When he goes down, the coach in me goes right to an opportunity for somebody else,” Bergeron said.