Bemidji, MN – It would have been a bold prediction at various times throughout this season, but the Bowling Green Falcons will play for the WCHA Championship after sweeping regular season champion Bemidji State in the WCHA Semifinals. They knocked off the Beavers Saturday 2-1.
Chris Nell started in net for the Falcons and made 25 saves on 26 shots faced. Michael Bitzer made 30 saves on 32 chances for the Beavers.
Gerry Fitzgerald picked up the game’s first goal at 3:16 of the first period. The Beavers were the recipients of a partial two-on-one breakaway, and Fitzgerald beat Nell on his glove-side.
The Falcons finished the first period with seven shots on net, while the Beavers had nine attempts.
A familiar name scored the Falcons’ first goal Saturday night. At 1:35 of the second period Tyler Spezia fed the puck up the boards to Mark Friedman. The junior defenseman sent a long pass from the blue line to Kevin Dufour. The red-hot senior forward was left all alone in front of the net, and buried a wrist shot high for his 18th goal of the season.
Bowling Green and Bemidji State picked up an even slate of shots in the second period, testing the goalies with nine shots each.
Matt Pohlkamp gave the Falcons a 2-1 lead at 3:49 of the third period. Mitch McLain fed the puck to Pohlkamp in the neutral zone. Pohlkamp skated in to the Beavers’ zone and wristed what appeared to be an innocent shot from deep in the near face-off circle on Bitzer. But, the All-WCHA goaltender couldn’t handle the shot and it beat Bitzer five-hole for Pohlkamp’s 12th of the season. Stepen Baylis had the secondary assist on the play.
The Beavers pulled Bitzer with just over a minute to play, but the Falcons kept the Beavers off the board, earning the 2-1 win and berth in the WCHA Championship.
Bowling Green carried play in the final period, testing Bitzer with 16 shots on net. Bemidji State managed just eight shots in the final frame.
With the win the Falcons improve to 21-17-2, the Beavers’ season ends with a 22-16-3 mark.
The Falcons will face the winner of Sunday’s WCHA Semifinal Game 3 next Saturday for the Broadmoor Trophy and a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
- Matt Pohlkamp (BGSU) – GWG
- Gerry Fitzgerald (BGSU) – 1 G
- Kevin Dufour (BGSU) – 1 G
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All photos are the copyright of Todd Pavlack/BGSUHockey.com
Post Game Interviews
Head Coach Chris Bergeron
Senior Forward Matt Pohlkamp
Junior Goaltender Chris Nell