Bowling Green responded positively to a disappointing performance Friday night.
The Falcons posted a 4-3 win Saturday over Alabama-Huntsville to finish a sweep of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association series in the Ice Arena.
Third-period goals from Matt Pohlkamp at 3:26 and Brent Tate at 8:41 gave BG a 3-1 lead and BG held UAH off after that. The Falcons played a strong third period until they became sloppy defensively and allowed two goals in the final 1:24.
But the Chargers never tied the game after coming within 3-2 and 4-3.
The big third period for BG came after it killed off major and game-misconduct penalties to Mark Cooper with just 5:28 left in the second period and the score tied 1-1.
“We definitely wanted to have a bigger push tonight,” said Pohlkamp, who had a hand in all four goals with two goals and two assists. “We’ve been struggling lately. To get two wins is huge.”
The Falcons, ranked 15th nationally, won their third straight game to improve to 7-3-3 overall and 4-2-2 in the league. UAH is 3-6-1, 2-5-1.
Even though BG didn’t play well Friday, it still posted a 3-2 overtime victory. But the Falcons still held a players-only team meeting following the game.
UAH held a 36-28 edge in shots in goal Saturday, although the game was far more even than the shots indicate. Sixteen of UAH’s shots came on the power play where it had the extra man for 13:19, compared to BG’s 9:12.
“I don’t think we were that far off (Saturday) or as far off as we were last night in terms of getting to our game,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said.
LINEUP: Seniors Ben Murphy and junior Pierre-Luc Mercier — expected to be two of BG’s best forwards — returned to the lineup Saturday after sitting out Friday as healthy scratches.
Mercier had one goal, one assist, and an on-ice rating of plus 2.
“They responded pretty well,” Bergeron said of Murphy and Mercier. “They did a pretty good job.
“I would like to see Murphy play with a little more confidence. Not playing last night doesn’t talk about being confident. But as a senior, we expect him, whenever he gets a chance to play, to be confident.”
They were part of a major lineup shuffling Saturday by the Falcons, who played 13 forwards and five defensemen, instead of the usual 12 forwards and six defensemen.
Forwards Shane Bednard and Joe McKeown came out of the lineup, along with defensemen Jose Delgadillo and Dajon Mingo. Forwards Jakob Reichert and defenseman Braden Pears also played Saturday.
None of the lineup decisions were made due to an injury.
“I wanted to get a reaction,” Bergeron said of the weekend lineups. “I wanted to get a response. Our best team is with Mercier and Murphy in the lineup. I was looking to get a response from those guys and I think we did.
“But this isn’t about games. It’s about a daily approach and Monday is the next opportunity. Hopefully, they understand that and remember it, and not just those two. It’s everybody.”
RED HOT: The Falcon power play was 2 of 5 of and finished the series 5 of 10.
“It’s so much better now. We were struggling so badly on the power play,” Pohlkamp said of the power play. “That’s really big for our confidence. We’re working harder. We expect to score goals on the power play now which is really big for us.”
The Falcon power play entered the weekend just 4 of 38, including a 2 of 4 effort in the series finale at Michigan Tech Nov. 14. The BG power play is 7 of 14 in its last three games.
PK: The Falcons’ ability to kill off Cooper’s major gave them the momentum going into the third period. BG started the game strong, but UAH eventually fought back to even the game.
Cooper is one of BG’s best players. He also plays on the power-play and penalty-killing units. With the Falcons having to serve the entire penalty even if UAH scored, BG easily could have been behind going into the third period.
“That was huge because they’ve been scoring power-play goals all weekend. That was huge for the momentum late in the game,” Pohlkamp said.
UAH was 1 of 6 in the game and 3 of 11 in the series.
“I’d like our penalty-kill to be better. It just wasn’t good enough,” Bergeron said.
The Falcons have killed off just 15 of their last 21 short-handed attempts in the last four games.
RELIABLE: Pohlkamp played a strong game as he was reunited with linemates Mercier and junior Kevin Dufour. Mercier centers the line, flanked by Dufour on the left and Pohlkamp on the right.
“He just does a lot of things right every day,” Bergeron said of Pohlkamp. “He’s not a guy who shows up for games only. He just comes and does his thing and eats a bunch of hard minutes. It’s mice to see him get rewarded.”
Pohlkamp’s line usually is playing against the other team’s best players, and he kills penalties and skates on the power play. He’s the team’s leading scorer with 11 points in 13 games on five goals and six assists.
He’s taken just one penalty (a minor) has an on-ice rating of plus-6.
FIRST: Tate’s goal was his first of the season. The senior forward and assistant captain had just four assists in his BG’s first 12 games.
He has 24 goals and 25 assists in 94 career games.
“It’s definitely good to get the first one,” Tate said. “ I’ve been struggling. I’ve had chances. I just haven’t been strong down by the net.”
Tate’s goal came on a sweet deflection of Mark Friedman’s shot from the right point. The 6-foot-2, 176-pounder was on top of the crease with his back to the goal to tip the puck in on his forehand.
Tate also screened UAH goalie Carmine Guerriero, enabling Pohlkamp to open the scoring on the power play at 10:04 of the first period.
IN GOAL: BG’s Chris Nell stopped 33 shots, including 16 in the second period. Some of his best play came against UAH’s power play during the major to Cooper.
HOME SWEET HOME: The Falcons are 3-0-2 at home this season and 7-0-2 in their last nine home games, dating back to last season.
CLOSE CALLS: Eleven of BG’s 13 games have been decided by two or fewer goals.
BG is 3-0 in one-goal games and 3-2 in two-goal games.
MAGIC THREE: The Falcons are 8-0 when scoring three or more goals this season.