Simply and diplomatically put, Bowling Green didn’t play well Sunday night in the Ice Arena.
The 12th-ranked Falcons weren’t sharp offensively, defensively or in goal during a 3-2 nonleague loss to Clarkson in the Ice Arena.
They held a 32-19 edge in shots on goal, but generated most of their offense from the perimeter, had too many defensive breakdowns and goalie Tommy Burke didn’t play well. The Falcons also failed to score on their first three power plays, including a major, and allowed a short-handed goal.
The defeat was BG’s second in five days, the other coming in a 1-0 loss Wednesday at the Huntington Center in Toledo.
The Falcons, who fell to 12-5-5 overall, were bidding for a sweep of Clarkson after posting a 6-3 win less than 24 hours earlier.
Clarkson, picked eighth in the Eastern College Athletic Conference coaches poll, broke a five-game losing streak. The Golden Knights are 8-9-2.
“Disappointing,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said. “I don’t think it was a very good performance at all. Our team wasn’t ready to play and that’s disappointing. You get 38 opportunities (games) or 36 or whatever it is guaranteed, you can’t take nights off. We took tonight off.”
The Falcons took a 1-0 lead on Tyler Spezia’s goal at 12:48 of the first period, but Clarkson tied the game on Troy Josephs’ short-handed goal with just 6.2 seconds left in the period.
The Golden Knights went ahead for good on Jeff DiNallo’s power-play goal at 10:35 of the second period, and increased the lead to 3-1 on Sam Vigneault’s goal at 2:16 of the third period.
Although the Falcons were playing their third game in five days, Clarkson was playing its fourth game in seven days, all on the road.
The Golden Knights arrived in Pittsburgh on Dec. 26 and lost to No. 8 UMass-Lowell and No. 14 Penn State in the Three Rivers Classic on Monday and Tuesday. They traveled to Columbus after Tuesday’s game and spent two days there before coming to BG.
“As soon as you start thinking about it that way is when you’re going to allow yourself to be tired,” Spezia said. “They had it way worse than we did. Our game plan was to jump on them early. They’re going to be tired, their fourth game in however many days. We were just flat from the start. There’s no excuse. They took it to us tonight.”
POWER PLAY: The Falcon power play had another tough night.
BG allowed the short-handed goal on major and game-misconduct penalties to Clarkson’s Nic Pierog for checking from behind with just 37 seconds to go in the first period. Josephs scored after Burke and Falcon forward Pierre-Luc Mercier miscommunicated behind the net on exchanging the puck.
Josephs skated in, took the puck and scored on a wraparound as Burke was caught out of position.
The Falcons had two other power plays in the first 11 minutes of the game, but had just three shots on goal.
“The first period, we had three power plays that were really poor in terms of the effort and the intensity,” Bergeron said. “The way we went back for that puck, it’s disappointing. Instead of having a killer instinct, you give up a goal and you give up the momentum. That carried over to the second period.
“The guys who play on the power play are your best players,” Bergeron added. “They weren’t ready to play tonight.”
BG didn’t score on the remaining 4:23 of Pierog’s major to start the second period, although it had seven shots on goal.
“To be on the power play and give up a goal with six seconds left, that deflated us,” Spezia said. “I don’t ever think we were able to come back from that. The bench was flat. We were just waiting around for someone to make a play when we all have to do it together.”
The Falcons have scored just 13 power-play goals in 22 games this season.
GOALTENDING: Burke wasn’t sharp, stopping just 16 of 19 shots. The senior started in place of the injured Chris Nell, who suffered a head injury against Western. His status is day-to-day.
DiNallo’s goal came from the right circle, going in under Burke’s right arm on Clarkson’s only power play attempt of the game.
“That was a bad goal,” Bergeron said. “Too many bad goals have gone in the last two nights. We’ll have to re-evaluate our goaltending as it stands, if Chris stays injured. That’s not the caliber of goaltending that is accepted around here.”
Burke stopped 32 of 35 shots Saturday. Although he’s 4-3 this season, the senior has a 2.88 goals-against average and .896 save percentage.
Nell, a sophomore, leads the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with a 1.42 goals-against and a .944 save percentage in 17 games. He ranks fourth nationally in goals-against and fifth in save percentage. Junior Tomas Sholl hasn’t played this season.
DISALLOWED GOAL: The Falcons thought they had closed within 3-2 with 9:12 left on Jordan Ernst’s goal from the right point, but the goal was disallowed after video review.
BG did close within one goal on Brandon Hawkins’ 6 on 4 power-play goal with 50 seconds left, but Clarkson held on.
“There was contact to the goalie more than once during the play,” Bergeron said when asked what the explanation was from the referee. “I didn’t see a point of arguing the call at the time. They had a chance to review it.
“It wasn’t about that goal,” Bergeron added. “It was about the way we played from our goaltender out. We got what we deserved. You don’t get those calls when you’re not doing those things properly, when you’re not earning those calls. Whether it’s the right call or wrong call, we didn’t earn the call. We didn’t deserve it. We didn’t get it.”
OFFENSE: Mark Cooper led BG with five shots on goal, while Kevin Dufour and Sean Walker each had four.
Clarkson goalies Greg Lewis and Steve Perry played well with 26 saves. Perry stopped 4 of 5 shots in the final 11:10 after Lewis was shaken up. The Falcons, however, failed to consistently test the two from close in.
“Last night, we were skating and moving the puck much, much better than we were tonight,” Bergeron said. “It was one of those nights where we were trying to plead with our players that it’s not that night to be fancy and those slick plays aren’t there. It’s chipping pucks. It’s grinding. It’s working. We weren’t willing to do that.”
HOME ICE: The Falcons lost in the Ice Arena for the first time this season. They were 6-0-4 at home entering the game and 9-0-4 in their last 13 home games dating back to last season.
LINEUP: Shane Bednard dressed at forward, replacing John Schilling. Freshmen defensemen Ernst and Adam Smith played their third straight game.
Forward Brent Tate (thumb) and Jose Delgadillo (shoulder) remained out with injuries.