Good special teams play helped Bowling Green to a 5-0 win Saturday over Alabama-Huntsville.
The Falcons scored on two of their seven power plays, and killed off all five of UAH’s chances with the extra man.
The victory enabled the Falcons to earn a split of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association series after UAH posted a 7-5 win Friday. BG finished the regular season 20-12-6 overall and 16-7-5 in the league for third place, two points behind co-champions Minnesota State and Michigan Tech.
“Overall, winning the special teams battle usually is a good indicator of who is going to win the game, and we won the special teams,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said after the victory.
The Falcons took a 1-0 lead on Brett D’Andrea’s power-play goal 12 minutes into the first period. The goal came 75 seconds after BG killed off UAH’s two-man advantage of 1:13.
“We didn’t think we were great early 5 on 5, but we stuck with it,” Bergeron said. “The penalty kill and the power play gave us some momentum and the lead. We got better 5 on 5 as the game went on.”
The Falcons killed off another 5 on 3 in the second period, this one lasting 33 seconds and coming with BG still holding a 1-0 lead. Just 2:39 after BG returned to full strength, John Schilling scored to give the Falcons a 2-0 lead.
The Chargers totaled only 12 shots on goal in 9:46 with the extra man, including the two 5 on 3s.
“The penalty kill was outstanding,” said BG sophomore goalie Chris Nell, who made 24 saves.
The shutout was Nell’s seventh at BG, tying the school record, and his fourth of the season. The four shutouts in a season broke the school record of three, which he tied last season.
The Falcons have killed off 24 of their last 25 short-handed situations during the last six games.
“We really didn’t give them much at all in terms of scoring chances ,and they didn’t enter the (offensive) zone clean very often,” Nell said.
POWER PLAY: Stephen Baylis scored BG’s other power play goal, that coming at 13:16 of the third period for a 5-0 lead.
But BG failed to score on a two-minute 5 on 3 of its own, spanning late in the first period and early in the second period.
“With the playoffs coming up and a 5 on 3 maybe meaning everything, we have to find a way to score in that situation,” said Bergeron, whose team hasn’t scored a 5 on 3 power-play goal this season.
The Falcons have scored a power-play goal in six of their last eight games. BG’s power play is fourth in the league at 15.9 percent.
PENALTIES: BG and UAH played a physical and, at times, tightly-officiated game, resulting in 17 penalties for 37 minutes. The Chargers’ Anderson White received a major for kneeing BG’s Mitch McLain in the first period. McLain suffered a charley horse, but returned to the game in the second period.
“Too many penalties for my liking,” Bergeron said of his team. The Falcons had eight penalties for 16 minutes. “I don’t know if they were undisciplined, but we kind of got sucked into a game we really didn’t want to be in, in terms of special teams, not that we’re not capable. Just poor decisions on our part.”
BG is the league’s second-least penalized team at 9.9 minutes per game. UAH is sixth at 13.5 mpg.
HONOREE: Baylis was named the WCHA’s rookie of the week for the second straight week, the league announced Monday.
The freshman left wing had three goals and three assists against UAH, including two goals and two assists in Saturday’s game. He also had six shots on goal and was +3 in the series.
POLLS: The Falcons remained in the teams receiving votes in this week’s U.S. College Hockey Online Top 20 announced Monday. BG totaled 21 points, down from 61 last week.
The WCHA co-champions both were in the Top 20, with Michigan Tech at No. 13 and Minnesota State at No. 16. In the USA Hockey/USA Hockey Magazine Top 15, Michigan Tech was 13th.
RESILIENCY: The victory Saturday was bittersweet for the Falcons, who played well in Game 2 after a poor performance Friday cost them a share of the league championship.
UAH overcame deficits of 1-0 and 4-3 to post its win, scoring three goals in the first period and four goals in the third period. The Chargers (7-21-6, 5-17-6) finished last in the league and were eliminated from playoff contention the previous weekend.
“We had to put that behind us and know (Saturday) was another opportunity to finish off the season strong and get ready for the playoffs,” Nell said.
“We got it in our heads last night that we just had to come out and be better tonight,” said BG sophomore right wing Brandon Hawkins, who had a goal and two assists in the game. “It was a group effort tonight. Everyone was in on it. It was a good win.”
The Falcons split three of their last four league series, losing the first game each time. BG was 9-9-1 overall and 8-5-1 in the league after Christmas.
“We don’t want to be in that situation,” Bergeron said. “We had a lot of long faces around the hotel today. Unfortunately, in particular the second half of the year, we’ve had to be in a position to respond, and we did respond well.”
FILLING THE NET: BG has scored four or more goals in five straight games for the first time since the start of the 1996-97 season when it accomplished the feat in six straight games.
PLUS: BG senior defenseman Jose Delgadillo was +4 in the series, including +3 Saturday. Freshman defenseman Jordan Ernst also was +3 Saturday.
LINEUP: BG made two lineup changes for Saturday’s game — Ernst was inserted for freshman defenseman Adam Smith, and freshman forward Joe McKeown replaced senior forward Ben Murphy.