Physicality and the depth of scoring cemented Bowling Green hockey its third sweep of the season against fifth-ranked Notre Dame on Saturday. The 5-2 win came with goals from Freddy Letourneau, Adam Pitters, Cameron Wright, Sam Craggs and Brandon Kruse.
Much like the victory in South Bend, Indiana, the Falcons increased the intensity as the game moved along.
“Tonight it seemed like a really competitive game. There was really no room out there for anybody to not get engaged in the game,” head coach Ty Eigner said. “The difficult thing is to maintain that and compete like that, regardless of the opponent. The challenge for us as coaches and for our players that everything has to matter like it did this weekend.”
The Fighting Irish started the goal scoring when Mike O’Leary put home a rebound on the power play 1:15 into the frame.
The response came heavy and hard from the Falcons. Bodies came crashing to the boards in an effort to open up the ice for the offense and take away space from the Irish.
“It was a really physical game with two really good teams,” Eigner said. “Tonight we get a couple penalties early, and that’s not really a recipe for success, but we stayed with it. We kept going and we kept our composure.”
It took some luck, but Bowling Green would answer. Letourneau scored his second PP is as many games when a puck was misplayed off the end boards by Irish goalie Ryan Bischel, leading to a wide-open cage for the Montreal, Quebec native.
Then Pitters scored his first-career collegiate goal on a beautiful play. He created a turnover in the Notre Dame zone and followed up with two backhand-to-forehand dekes, slipping the puck under Bischel.
“I was going to shoot, but I saw the (defenseman) drop down, so I just decided to go around him and just tucked it around the goalie,” Pitters said.
Eigner has been emphatic about the recent play of Pitters and his linemates.
“That was a big time play. I want to see it on video. Really good shift by the entire line,” Eigner said. “A lot of times you think a kid against Notre Dame might just panic and throw the puck at the net on his backhand. Really nice to see Adam get rewarded for that.”
In the second period, Bowling Green scored two consecutive goals to attain a 4-2 lead over the Irish. Wright completed a tic-tac-toe passing play on the power play, which totaled four goals on the weekend.
“We want to do it for the guy next to us and it seems like it’s working out,” Letourneau said, who scored two power play goals on the weekend. “(We needed) to make sure to just out-work their PK. If we work harder than them and win the little battles on the wall… four goals in two games on the power play against the fifth-best team in the nation, I think it’s pretty good.”
The momentum shift seemed to have started when a high hit on Brandon Kruse resulted in no penalty call after what seemed to be a lengthy review. In reality, the replay system in Slater Family Ice Arena had malfunctioned, meaning the play was unable to be reviewed.
“It’s frustrating because that could be a turning point,” Eigner said. “If that’s a five-minute major, a five-minute major can swing a game, and it was too good of a hockey game to have something like that happen.”
Eigner, visibly upset, turned around on the bench at shouted towards the far end of the press box where the official replay crew was seated.
“I probably lost my cool a little bit and turned around and probably shouldn’t have because 4,000 people are staring at you,” he said.
Notre Dame brought pressure in the third period, but could not solve Eric Dop as he picked up his 10th win of the season.
“When things matter and you’ve got your attention and you’re invested in the game and you’re engaged in that, you’re drawn into the fight,” Eigner said. “There’s a bunch of guys that have bumps and bruises. Both teams blocked shots, both teams finished checks. We knew going in this was going to be a great weekend of college hockey, and obviously, we love the results.”
Sixteenth-ranked Bowling Green will now welcome Alabama-Huntsville to Slater Family Ice Arena in their next series. The Chargers just won their first game of the season against Northern Michigan.