Post-Game Extra: Falcon offense fashions another big night

By January 23, 2016Post-Game Extra
Bowling Green's Tyler Spezia (left) and Alaska-Anchorages's Brad Duwe battle for the puck during Saturday's game (Photo by Todd Pavlack/BGSUHockey.com).

Bowling Green’s offense was dominant again Friday night in the Ice Arena.

The Falcons generated quality scoring chances and they capitalized, rolling to a 6-2 victory over Alaska-Anchorage.

Brandon Hawkins scored twice, and Matt Pohlkamp, Adam Smith, Brent Tate and Connor McDonald tallied the other goals as BG completed a sweep of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association series.

The Falcons, ranked 18th nationally, improved to 15-7-5 overall and 11-3-4 in the league. BG moved four points ahead of No. 17 Michigan Tech for second place in the WCHA. Both teams have played 18 games.

The Falcons scored four straight goals, spanning the first and second periods, to pull away from a 1-1 tie. They totaled 37 shots in the game and held UAA to 21.

BG began the series Friday with another 6-2 win in a game it had 41 shots on goal.

The Falcons entered the series in a scoring drought, having scored just 12 goals in its last six games. The final two games resulted in a combined one goal in losses on the road to Lake Superior and Miami.

BG’s goals were scored with good offensive plays all over the ice. The Falcons totaled 21 out of a possible 24 assists in the series.

“That’s what we’re capable of doing, and it reminded us that when we do things with purpose and detail, we can get a bunch of chances,” Falcon coach Chris Bergeron said. “With a bunch of chances, we will score.”

In addition to the 12 goals and the 78 shots, the Falcons were impressive offensively in the series because of their balance. They had scoring throughout the lineup, from their forwards and defensemen and all four classes.

Seventeen of BG’s 19 non-goalies had at least one point in the series. One of the exceptions was forward Pierre-Luc Mercier, who suffered a lower-body injury during the first period Friday and didn’t play Saturday.

Hawkins, who led BG with 16 goals and 30 points as a freshman last season, had three goals and two assists in the series. 10 different players scored the Falcons’ 12 goals.

Three BG freshmen — forward Joe McKeown, and defensemen McDonald and Smith — scored their first career goals.

“We do it by committee, and it was nice to see, over the course of two games a lot of guys contributing,” Bergeron said.

The Falcon defense corps of McDonald, Smith, Jordan Ernst, Chris Pohlkamp, Mark Friedman and Sean Walker combined for four goals and seven assists in the series.

The BG defensemen have good passing and shooting skills, but they also skate well to enable them to join the play and give the team another scoring option on the run. Having defensemen involved offensively is a must for teams if they wish to score at the college, major junior and pro levels of hockey.

“This wasn’t just a forward effort, so we need our (defensemen) involved,” Bergeron said. “To create offense, you have to have defenseman who can get involved, and our (defensemen) were involved.”

SPECIAL TEAMS: The Falcon power-play and penalty-killing units set the tone for the game in the first period.

Matt Pohlkamp’s short-handed goal opened the scoring at 6:57 of the first period, just 1:42 after the Falcons failed to score on the game’s first power play.

After UAA tied the game at 6:01, the Falcons took the lead on power-play goals from Smith at 10:23 and Tate at 12:15. Both goals came on major and game-misconduct penalties for checking form behind to UAA’s Eric Roberts.

“We got the momentum right back with two big power-play goals,” Bergeron said. “It was huge for the power play to do that at that time.”

The Falcon power play was 2 of 7 and had 13 shots in 13 minutes with the extra man. The BG penalty-killing was 5 of 5, allowing just eight shots in 10 minutes.

“When we have that going, it’s hard to stop us,” Hawkins said.

NEWCOMER: Smith, who joined the Falcons on Dec. 26, skated on the power play for the third straight game. In addition to his power-play goal, he assisted on Tate’s power-play goal.

“He shoots the puck well. His decisions are smart and simple,” Bergeron said of why Smith was added to the power play.

Smith, a freshman defenseman, shoots left which means BG doesn’t have to put a forward in that position on the left point. He also can defend well.

Because Smith and Ernst joined the team after Christmas, the Falcon coaches have tried to ease them into college hockey. Both have earned a regular shift and both have killed penalties.

Bergeron also envisions Ernst skating on the power play at some point during his career because of his offensive skills.

DEFENSE: BG played well defensively during the series, allowing just the two goals each night. The Falcon defensemen also played well.

The games were tough for the defensemen to play because the Falcons were way ahead both nights. That meant UAA was having its defensemen involved in the rush and it was trying to get its forwards behind the BG defense to create offense.

“Our guys did a good job. I liked the way we defended,” Bergeron said. “Chris (BG goalie Nell) made some good saves. I was happy with the way we defended. We feel like if we give up less than three goals per game, we’re in a good spot.”

Nell had 19 saves Saturday after making 28 stops Friday.

INJURIES: Bergeron said Mercier is day-to-day with his injury and could have played Saturday, had it been a playoff game.
“If it’s the last game of the year, he would have played,” Bergeron said. “We have healthy bodies and why do that (play him)? Resting tonight and the next couple days is a good thing for him. We need him 100 percent next weekend.”

The Falcons host Michigan Tech next weekend.

BG sophomore forward Tyler Spezia left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury and didn’t return.

“It’s not that bad,” Bergeron said, calling the decision not play Spezia after the injury “more precautionary. We’re a better team with him in the lineup.”

BG senior forward Ben Murphy (upper body) didn’t play for the second straight game.

UAA INJURIES: The Seawolves played without defenseman and senior captain Austin Sevalrud and freshman forward Jeremiah Luedtke because of injuries.

Sevalrud is one of UAA’s best defensemen and missed his second straight game. Luedtke, who has two goals and eight assists in 20 games, was injured Friday when he was hit by Walker, who was penalized for boarding.

Kevin Gordon

About Kevin Gordon

Kevin joined BGSUHockey.com after wrapping up a 27-year run as the Falcon hockey beat writer for the Sentinel-Tribune. He now provides his features, notebooks, and insights with BGSUHockey.com to continue providing Falcon hockey fans with the in-depth coverage they've loved for nearly three decades. He can be reached by e-mail at Kevin@bgsuhockey.com and on Twitter at @KGordonBG.

error: Please contact Todd@BGSUHockey.com for photo rights.