Seventeenth ranked Bowling Green hockey, looking to respond after an overtime loss to R.I.T., fell 5-2 to no. 14 Western Michigan Saturday night.
Player of the game: Dawson DiPietro, WMU, 2 A
Key stat: Attempted shots: BGSU 58, WMU 46
In an effort to spark the offense, Cameron Wright and Alex Barber switched spots in the lineup. Wright, who scored four goals against Miami in the season opener, played alongside Casey Linkenheld and Connor Ford while Barber slotted next to Brandon Kruse and Max Johnson.
“We scored two last night and I didn’t love the way we played. We played better tonight for longer periods of time. So it was just to kind of change things up,” Head coach Ty Eigner said following the game.
Johnson and Kruse have been used to physicality on their wing as last year the pair played with the NCAA penalty minutes leader Lukas Craggs.
The Broncos connected first after Carson Musser fails to break up a play in the neutral zone. The puck comes back the other way and Drew Worrad is able to bury Dawson DiPietro’s rebound. In the opening minute of the game, it’s 1-0 Western Michigan.
Undisciplined play delayed any momentum the Falcons looked to gain in the opening period. The man advantage would allow the Broncos to control the pace, with Hugh McGing almost capitalizing on a breakaway.
BGSU would be in a position they have yet to find themselves through three games this year by trailing after the first period.
“All-in-all from a ‘how we want to play’ perspective, our effort was really good,” Eigner said. “Our effort wasn’t at the level that we’re capable of last night (against R.I.T.). So tonight I thought it was more consistent, more often.”
Thirty-eight seconds into the second period and they would take care of that deficit. Tim Theocharidis’ long point shot evades legs and sticks to even the score. The defenseman’s first of the year.
It would be a tie game for less than five minutes. Ethen Frank scoots a shot through the five-hole of Eric Dop, bringing Western Michigan ahead 2-1.
Penalty trouble came up again in the second period when Sam Craggs sits for checking from behind. On the ensuing powerplay, Ronnie Attard sneaks down from the point and a cross-crease pass from McGing allows him to float one by Dop, upping the Bronco lead to 3-1.
“Coming into the game we knew they had some speedy forwards,” Rauhauser said after the game. “(We needed to do) a better job communicating with the forwards on the backcheck. Just picking up your guys and trying to slow them up at the blueline and not let them gain the zone with a lot of speed.”
DiPietro would set up another Western Michigan goal with three minutes remaining in the period. A spin-o-rama pass found Austin Rueschhoff who ripped a shot top-shelf.
With the Falcons looking to end the second period on a high note, they would throw as many chances to the net as they could. In the winding moments, Alec Rauhauser steps around the opposition and fires on at the net. A scramble would ensue and Taylor Schneider cleans up the garbage with two seconds remaining. Bowling Green enters the third period down 4-2.
“We felt the way we played in the second period at times was probably as good as we’ve played all year,” Eigner said. “Western Michigan took advantage of some of their opportunities to extend the lead from 2-1 to 3-1 then 4-1, but we felt really good about how we played in the second period.”
The chances came, but a Wade Allison empty-net goal sealed the 5-2 victory for the Broncos.
Now, the Falcons will see this same Western Michigan team at the Slater Family Ice Arena and in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
“You saw tonight a team that is fast and deep and has some real dangerous kids up front,” Eigner said. “Western Michigan is a really good opponent and it’ll be good for us to prepare for them all week.”
Game number two against the Broncos will be at the Slater, Friday, Oct. 18 at 7:07 p.m.