GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Bowling Green’s offense was kept in check Friday.
The Falcons were held to just one goal and 24 shots in a 2-1 loss to Minnesota State in the semifinals of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five at Van Andel Arena.
The Falcons held a 24-23 edge in shots, but generated few quality shots and failed to generate much consistent pressure in the offensive zone.
“They defend really well,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said. “They make smaller hockey plays in their (defensive) zone which makes it difficult for second and third chances. When there are opportunities, (their goalies) are there to make saves.”
The Mavericks are the top defensive team in the WCHA, allowing just 1.95 goals per game. BG entered the game second in scoring at 2.81 gpg.
MSU goalies Cole Huggins and Jason Pawloski have combined for a 1.92 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage. Huggins, a junior, made 10 of his 23 saves against BG in the second period.
BG had scored three or more goals in seven of its last eight games, totaling 35 goals in that span.
“They defended really well and kept it simple, … made it difficult to create anything, at least sustained,” Bergeron said. “Ultimately, we fell short. Not enough opportunities. Not opportunistic enough around the other team’s net.”
The Falcons attempted only 42 total shots in the game. Mark Cooper, Mitch McLain and Sean Walker each had four shots on goal for BG.
PENALTIES: The Falcons were hurt by six penalties, the last five coming when they were down 2-0. They had to kill three straight penalties in the last 14 minutes of the second period and another midway through the third period.
BG’s last penalty came with just 55.8 seconds left, helping Minnesota State clinch the victory. The Mavericks played smart during the final 56 seconds, primarily keeping the puck deep in their offensive zone.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Falcon power play was 1 of 4, while MSU was 0 of 6.
SLOW START: After falling behind 2-0 in the first minute, Bergeron was looking for a way to spark his team. That, he said, might have even included a goalie change.
Nell made 23 saves in the game, but Bergeron said the first-team All-WCHA goalie was “fighting” the puck early in the game. The sophomore finished the season with a 1.91 goals-against and a .930 save percentage.
“We go down 3-0, we might be talking about a goalie change or something to do stop it,” Bergeron said. “Our guys, again, found a way.”
RETURN: BG’s John Schilling returned to the lineup against Minnesota State. The sophomore forward didn’t play Sunday in Game 3 of the Falcons’ quarterfinal series against Bemidji State after suffering neck and back injuries in Game 2
MR. MARCH: Minnesota State’s Brad McClure continued his playoff magic when he opened the scoring at 5:18 of the first period. The sophomore forward has nine goals and four assists in eight career playoff games.
FAREWELL: The game marked the end of the careers of five Falcon seniors — forwards Cooper, Brent Tate and Ben Murphy; defenseman Jose Delgadillo and goalie Tommy Burke.
FALCON GREATS: Among the former Falcons at Friday’s game were former Washington Capitals’ general manager George McPhee and 1980 United States Olympian Mark Wells.