In Chris Bergeron’s return to Bowling Green, the Miami RedHawks took down No. 11 BGSU hockey 4-2.
Despite BGSU’s winter break still in place, Slater Family Ice Arena was filled with fans on Monday night. Hockey supporters came to see a reunion. Former Bowling Green hockey head coach Bergeron and the Miami RedHawks returned to campus for the first time since Bergeron elected to head to Miami this past summer.
"It's been a crazy eight months... Hard to put into words the impact that Bowling Green, on-campus and off-campus, made on me and my family. (My impact on the program), that's for other people to talk about... I believe we left Bowling Green hockey better than we found it... It's tough for me to talk much more than that because I do think there are people that are not okay with my decision—not that I can control that, but I'll let the fans talk about the impact we made while we were here,” Bergeron said.
Bergeron was greeted by a majority of cheers as he was introduced during opening ceremonies, with a faint boo sprinkled in certain spots of the arena.
When all was said and done; however, there was a game to be played. A game that lacked offense and effort from the Bowling Green side of the ice to start. A rough first period locked the Falcons into a 2-0 deficit thanks to goals by Ryan Savage and Christian Mohs.
“It didn’t seem to be rust. We just didn’t play hard to start the game… It reminded us of the Mankato Friday night game (Nov. 1) where we needed to get in this game or it could be two, three, four to nothing pretty quick,” head coach Ty Eigner said after the game.
Adding on to that Will Cullen was ejected from the game after receiving a checking from behind penalty and the RedHawks were awarded with a five-minute power play to open the second period.
Gordie Green found himself all alone in front of Eric Dop no more than three minutes into the second, and did not miss. The 3-0 lead deflated BGSU for the rest of the second, who were unable to score on a five-on-three power play after Sam Craggs notched his fourth of the year on an odd-man rush with Max Johnson.
“They’ve improved in their systems,” Eigner said. “When do don’t play hard against us or against them, you’re going to spend some time in your (defensive) zone and you’re not going to look very good.”
On multiple occasions, Bowling Green players had a chance to move the puck out of their defensive zone and avert any danger. They were unable to do so, and it cost them pucks in their net each time, a reoccurring theme when it comes to goals against for the Falcons this year.
Brandon Kruse gave the Falcons life in the third period. Just about five minutes into the final frame, Kruse was able to swipe in a rebound from a Justin Wells shot to bring the Falcons within one.
It would be too little too late. The RedHawks would an empty-net goal.
“Some hockey games just go like that,” Kruse said. “You play the game over and our power play could be making the same plays and be clicking. That’s just how hockey works sometimes.”
As the final seconds ticked down on the scoreboard, the Miami bench was ecstatic. The silenced Bowling Green crowd was washed over by the pounding of skates as players jumped for joy. This was clearly an emotional game for everyone involved in the program and surely a difficult one for Bergeron.
“Bowling Green has meant a lot to him and his family. The way he said it was like ripping a band-aid off coming back for the first time,” Eigner said.
As for the game, it is a tough pill to swallow for the Falcons, who drop to 12-7-1 on the year. Yet another loss to an inferior opponent knocks them back to 17th in pairwise rankings. With non-conference play done, they are thinking about the past.
“Their power play was better than our penalty kill tonight,” Eigner said. “That’s just the reality.”
Bowling Green will get back into action right away as Northern Michigan will come into town for a weekend series to begin the year 2020.