Bowling Green’s resiliency was rewarded again Saturday night.
The Falcons used a healthy supply of grit and determination to post a 3-1 victory at Minnesota State and earn a split of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association series.
BG rebounded to play well and earn the win following a 5-1 loss in the series opener 24 hours earlier. Although the Falcons played an OK game in the loss, it was hurt by major mistakes.
“What I really liked is the guys who did the talking after the game Friday were the older guys,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said. “It wasn’t a coach. We had 14 underclassmen in the game Saturday night. You develop that thick skin. You develop that resiliency by being a part of this program.”
The upperclassmen in the lineup were seniors Mark Cooper and Brent Tate, and juniors Pierre-Luc Mercier, Matt Pohlkamp and Sean Walker. Walker is BG’s captain, with Cooper and Tate serving as assistant captains. The Falcons played eight freshmen and six sophomores Saturday.
The victory enabled the Falcons to remain in the race for the league championship. They’re tied with Michigan Tech for second place with 29 points, two behind Minnesota State and three ahead of fourth-place with just six games remaining.
The Falcons, ranked 19th nationally, are 16-9-6 overall and 12-5-5 in the WCHA. They have just one game this weekend, a Friday nonleague contest at home against Miami.
“From a program that was talked about going away to where we are today is resilient,” said BG coach Chris Bergeron, who is in his sixth season.
In the two seasons behind Bergeron arrived at BG, the Falcon program was targeted for elimination by university and athletic administrators because of budget reasons.
But the program survived, thanks to the overwhelming support from Falcon hockey alums and fans, and the BG community. Now, the program is thriving.
“To look back at the last five and change years, we’ve had some tough times and been resilient and come back. The program has been the example for all of us. Let’s just keep pushing, regardless of what just happened … let’s make it better.”
“Bowling Green hockey has developed that resiliency. Anybody who is a part of it, you either jump on board or you’re in the way.”
The resiliency is a staple on the ice for the Falcons, who compete and work hard on a consistent basis, regardless of whether they’re ahead or behind.
“Is (resiliency) something we look for in a player? Yes,” Bergeron said. “That player has to adapt as a person when he gets here because we’ve established ourselves as being that.
“If you’re not that and you let that last shift or whatever it is affect you, you get exposed for it because we’ve got a bunch of guys who don’t. It’s a quality of a young person, not to really let the last play, the last day, the last game, the last shift, whatever it is, affect you.”
HEATING UP: The RedHawks are 5-2 in their last seven games, which started with a 2-1 over BG in Oxford Jan. 16. They split at home with No. 7 St. Cloud and No. 13 Denver, and won twice at No. 12 Nebraska-Omaha.
Miami is 11-13-3 overall and 6-10-2 in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
“They’re a good team,” said Bergeron, an assistant coach at Miami for 10 seasons before being named BG’s head coach in April 2010. “They don’t have bad years. They have good years and really good years, depending on winning because they’re there all the time.”
RedHawk freshman forward Jack Roslovic is the NCHC’s third-leading scorer with 21 points, totaling 10 goals and 11 assists in 27 games. Freshman forward Josh Melnick and junior forward Anthony Louis both have 18 points, while senior forward Sean Kuraly has 17.
Roslovic was Winnipeg’s first-round pick in 2015 (25th overall), while Louis was a sixth-round pick of Chicago in 2013.
“The focus is when you’re on the ice make sure you’re aware with those guys because they can score that quickly,” Bergeron said.
Miami sophomore defenseman Louie Belpedio was a third-round pick of Minnesota in 2014.
REMATCH: Miami scored the winning goal with just two seconds remaining in its January game against the Falcons.
“The fact we let one slip away a couple weeks ago in their building is a good reminder we need to play well,” Bergeron said.
RECENTLY: BG is 1-4 against Miami since joining the Western Collegiate Hockey Association for the 2013-14 season. The teams split two games last season, both teams winning at home by a 3-2 score.
POWER PLAY: The Falcon power play faces a major challenge against Miami, which leads the nation in penalty-killing at 93.5 percent. The RedHawks have allowed just six power-play goals this season.
The BG power play was 0 of 2 at Miami.
HOME ICE: The Falcons are 8-2-5 in the Ice Arena this season, including a 6-1-5 record in league play.
BOOK SIGNING: BG’s Duke Pieper will be attendance for a book signing of “I’m Alive: Courage, Hope And a Miracle.”
TEDDY BEAR TOSS: The Falcons’ annual Teddy Bear Toss will be held during the first intermission Saturday. Fans are encouraged to bring a teddy bear, wrap it in a bag and toss it on the ice during the first intermission. Bags will be available at the Ice Arena.
All bears will be donated to The Children’s Miracle Network through the university’s Dance Marathon.