Post-Game Extra: Lack of scoring hurts Falcons

By October 9, 2016Notebooks
Bowling Green's Kevin Dufour (10) passes the puck as Bemidji State's Kyle Bauman defends Saturday night in the Sanford Center (Photo by Todd Pavlack/

BEMIDJI, Minnesota — Bowling Green scored just one goal for the second straight night Saturday in the Sanford Center.

And for the second straight game, the Falcons didn’t win.

Bemidji State scored three times in the third period to pull away from a 1-1 tie and earn a 4-1 victory over the Falcons. The Beavers finished a sweep of the favorites to win the Western Collegiate Hockey Association after their season-opening 2-1 win 24 hours earlier.

BG tied the game on Mitch McLain’s short-handed goal at 3:40 of the second period, but didn’t score again against the Beavers and junior goalie Michael Bitzer. The junior stopped 22 shots and helped Bemidji hold BG scoreless on all eight of its attempts on the power play.

“To score two goals over the course of a weekend isn’t very good,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said. “We had plenty of opportunities, and, obviously, you’d like to have more opportunities.”

Bitzer had 23 saves Friday for Bemidji, which was sixth in the WCHA coaches poll.

The Falcons were second in the WCHA in overall scoring last season, averaging 2.81 goals per game. But BG graduated leading scorer Mark Cooper, and Brandon Hawkins left the team Sept. 29. Hawkins had 29 goals and 29 assists in his first two seasons at BG.

“We just need to bear down around the net. We need to stick with our game plan, move our feet and get pucks to the net,” McLain said.

POWER PLAY: The Falcons failed to score on a two-man advantage of 56 seconds with the score tied 1-1 just past the midway point of the second period. BG had 10 shots in 11:38 with the extra man after going 0-of-5 on the power play Friday.

“We had better looks tonight, but we’ll have to look at the video,” Bergeron said of the power play.

The Falcons had two power-play chances in each of the first two periods and four in the third period.

“We possessed the puck,” McLain said. “We got pucks to the net, especially the 5-on-3. We had good looks. When we have those bang-bang plays around the net, we have to find a way to capitalize because those are momentum shifts for us.”

The Bemidji power play was 2-of-9, with both goals coming in the third period to give the Beavers a 4-1 lead. The second power-play goal, to make it 4-1, came with two Falcons in the penalty box. Bemidji’s power play was 3-of-14 in the series.

GOOD START: BG started strong Saturday after it didn’t play well during the first two periods Friday. Despite the improved start, Bemidji took a 1-0 lead on Brett Beauvais’ goal at 7:39 of the first period.

The Falcons were back at full strength with the return of defenseman Mark Friedman, and forwards McLain and Jakob Reichert. The three juniors sat out Friday, the result of game-disqualification penalties for fighting against Windsor Oct. 1. The DQs carry an automatic one-game suspension under NCAA rules.

“I really liked our jump to start the game,” Bergeron said. “I liked the fact we tied it up short-handed.”

But Bemidji took its 2-1 lead at 1:19 of the third period on Charlie O’Connor’s rebound goal from the right side of the crease off a 3-on-2 rush. Gerry Fitzgerald, a forward who is Bemidji’s best player, increased the lead to 3-1 at 7:19 with a sweet shot from the right circle off a 2 on 2 rush.

“A big-time play,” Bergeron said of Fitzgerald’s goal.

The Beavers finished with a 30-23 edge in shots, including a 15-4 margin in the third period. Chris Nell had 26 saves for the Falcons. The game had 17 penalties, all minors.

RARE: The Falcons were swept in a league series for the first time since Feb. 20-21, 2015 when they lost twice at home to Northern Michigan.

LINEUP: With the return of the three suspended players, BG dressed the usual 18 non-goalies for Saturday’s game after dressing just 17 Friday.

Forward Matt Meier and defenseman Jacob Dalton were healthy scratches Saturday. Forward Brett D’Andrea didn’t make the trip because of an upper-body injury.

DELAY: The game was delayed for 10 minutes with 11:14 left in the third period after Bemidji defenseman Dan Billett shattered a pane of glass in his defensive zone on a clearing attempt.

NEXT: The Falcons host Western Michigan (2-0) next weekend in a home-and-home non-league series. The Broncos opened with a 5-3, 2-1 home-and-home sweep of WCHA member Ferris State.

Kevin Gordon

About Kevin Gordon

Kevin joined after wrapping up a 27-year run as the Falcon hockey beat writer for the Sentinel-Tribune. After providing another two years of the Falcon hockey coverage fans had grown to love over the past three decades, Kevin decided to hang up his notebook and is now enjoying the retired life. Please join us by sending Kevin a tweet and thank him for all the time he's dedicated to BGSU hockey: @KGordonBG.