Bowling Green started well Friday night.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, they couldn’t maintain the momentum and their high level of play following their fast start.
Kevin Dufour scored just 46 seconds into the game for the Falcons, but Alaska-Anchorage rallied to earn a 3-3 tie in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association game at the Ice Arena.
But the Falcons claimed the extra point in the WCHA standings on Mitch McLain’s goal 77 seconds into a 3-on-3 overtime. Under NCAA rules, the game counts as a tie. Neither team scored during the five-minute 5-on-5 OT after regulation. The individual statistics from the 3-on-3 overtime don’t count, either.
The loss snapped BG’s four-game winning streak. The Falcons are 6-7-2 overall and 5-3-1-1 in the WCHA, while UAA is 1-10-2, 0-5-2-2.
UAA pulled into a 3-3 tie on Matt Anholt’s goal, only 10 seconds into the third period.
“It’s pretty tough, but credit to (UAA),” said senior captain Sean Walker, who scored a power-play goal with just 1:16 remaining in the second period to give the Falcons a 3-2 lead. “To win in the 3-on-3 is huge, but it’s kind of disappointing. It goes down as a tie, kind of anti-climatic.”
The Falcons dominated the first six minutes, but settled for just the goal by Dufour. UAA had nothing going on in the game until Alex Jackstadt tied the game at 6:31 of the period. Jackstadt’s first goal of the season, after a BG breakdown, gave UAA plenty of life and the Falcons were never the same after that.
“That was definitely a big momentum shift,” Walker said.
“We weren’t engaged tonight,” Falcon coach Chris Bergeron said. “Full marks to our opponents. (UAA) took the game over from then on, at least at times.”
The Falcons were coming off WCHA sweeps at Northern Michigan and Alabama-Huntsville, four games they competed hard and frequently played well. BG is 6-1-1 in its last eight games overall.
WCHA: The two points moved BG into third place in the WCHA with 17 points. Bemidji State leads the league with 35 points, while Michigan Tech is second with 24. The Falcons and Michigan Tech both have played two fewer games than Bemidji.
Bemidji is playing a nonleague series this weekend. Tech was a 4-1 winner at Alaska (Fairbanks) Friday in the first game of that series.
DEFENSE: The Falcons didn’t defend well overall, even though UAA totaled just 22 shots on goal. BG had too many breakdowns and UAA capitalized. It took a 2-1 lead on Nicholas Erb-Ekholm’s goal at 6:48 of the second period.
“Our d-zone looked like we had never worked on it before,” Bergeron said. “(UAA) did exactly what we expected they’d do, which is second and third effort, which is a high level of skill in the offensive zone.
“We were standing around,” Bergeron added. “We take pride in taking away time and space, and we didn’t do that. We take pride in being a stick-on-puck team, and we didn’t do that. They were great in the offensive zone.”
INJURY: BG lost defenseman Alec Rauhauser, who suffered an upper-body injury when he was checked near the midway point of the first period.
Bergeron said initial reports indicated Rauhauser could be out “for a while,” but he would have more information on the injury Saturday.
The freshman has played well this season, totaling two goals and nine assists in 14 games, to go along with an on-ice rating of +8. He also skates on the power-play and penalty-killing units.
As a result, the Falcons played the remainder of the game with just five defensemen. Walker and junior Mark Friedman saw their playing time increase significantly after the injury.
The rest of the BG defense consisted of sophomores Connor McDonald and Chris Pohlkamp, and freshman Jacob Dalton. Dalton, however, hasn’t seen much action killing penalties this season.
“It puts a bunch of pressure on those five guys,” Bergeron said. “It makes it difficult on the group. They did a nice job of stepping up and picking up for Alec’s absence.”
With five defensemen, the Falcon blueliners often had a different partner each time they were on the ice. BG’s defense pairings had been fairly consistent during the team’s 14 games.
“We know what the other guy is going to do and stuff, but to go out there and have a different partner every shift mixes it up,” Walker said. “We know what we’re going to do. We talk a lot, so for the most part, we work it out. It’s a little tough, but we make it work.”
NOT AGAIN: The Falcons failed to win for the third time at home this season when they’ve held a third-period lead.
BG settled for a 4-4 tie against Western Michigan Oct. 14 after leading 4-2 with 10 minutes left. The Falcons allowed Ohio State to score twice in the first 10 minutes of the third period Oct. 21 to erase a 4-3 deficit and post a 5-4 win over the Falcons.
The Falcons are 1-2-2 at home this season.
OFFENSE: BG had 34 shots on goal, but Bergeron said it didn’t have enough quality scoring chances. Although UAA goalie Olivier Mantha played well with 30 saves, the Falcons had too many shots from the perimeter.
Walker and Brett D’Andrea both had one goal and two assists. Walker, Friedman and Matt Pohlkamp each had four shots in the game, and McLain had three.
The Falcons, however, had at least six great chances they failed to score on.
“I thought we were going to be able to create more quality chances consistently. We weren’t quite right tonight,” Bergeron said.
The Falcons had scored four or more goals in seven of their last eight games. UAA is eighth in the league in goals allowed, 3.31 per game.
PP: The Falcons scored a power-play goal for the fifth straight game and seventh time in the last eight games. BG was 1 of 6 with the extra man against UAA.
“We’re just a little more confident,” Walker said. “We go out there, and we know we have the ability to score goals. We just have to go out there with the mindset we’re going to capitalize. That’s a big part of our game, winning the special teams battle.”
PK: The BG penalty-killing was 5 of 5, allowing just one shot in 6:32.
BG had two impressive kills with the score tied 3-3, the first just past the midway point of the third period and the other coming with 2:42 left in the 5-on-5 overtime.
PENALTIES: The Falcons had two power plays cut significantly short by penalties. BG lost 1:30 of one power play and 1:42 on the other. The Falcons took another penalty after turning the puck over in their defensive zone.
“That’s just a symptom we’re not engaged enough, mentally and or physically,” Bergeron said. “We’ve been pretty engaged the last four, five, six games. Tonight, we just weren’t.”
STILL HOT: After going the first 11 games without a goal, Dufour has a goal in three straight games and in four of the last five contests. He has a point in five straight games, totaling four goals and two assists in that span.
CAREER HIGH: Walker has five goals and five assists in 15 games this season, the goals matching his career high in each of the last two seasons. He has two goals and three assists in the last five games.
UAA NOTES: The Seawolves are 0-7-2 in their last nine games, but their last two games resulted in ties against BG and Michigan Tech. Against Tech, UAA won the shootout to earn two points in the WCHA.
Mantha, a junior, has been his team’s best player this season. He has a 2.98 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage in 12 games. He’s started 11 of the team’s 13 games.