The men’s hockey team split a pair with the Northern Michigan Wildcats over the weekend. The Falcons won the first game Friday by a score of 3-1 but dropped the Saturday tilt 2-0.
This was the first taste of WCHA action this year for the Falcons, and the physical play did not disappoint. Junior Lukas Craggs had a hard hit to set up the first goal of the weekend for the Falcons. His hit would jar the puck from a Wildcat player, allowing senior captain Stephen Baylis to feed an open teammate for the goal. That goal would be a memorable one, as it was the first in the career of freshman Taylor Schneider.
“I think that it’s really important,” Head Coach Chris Bergeron said of physical play, “whether it’s an individual or collective. We have some guys that are really good at it, Lukas being at or near the top of that list. Good, clean solid hit and good things happen. I think it’s 100 percent necessary for us to establish ourselves physically.”
After that, it was time for Craggs’ brother to make a play, as sophomore Sam Craggs picked up the garbage. Sophomore Brandon Kruse made a move up the right side of the ice, firing a shot the goaltender could stop, but not corral. The younger Craggs brother picked up the loose puck in the slot and fired it home, putting Bowling Green up by 2 points.
After Troy Loggins brought the Wildcats within 1, it was time for the Falcons’ “magic man” to make something happen. Kruse was not content with just his assist on the day, as he would use his best asset to make another goal happen: his wheels. Kruse, a draft pick of the Vegas Golden Knights, credited his speed as a contributor to his success on the ice, and he showed his speed in this series.
“Probably my best attribute is my speed,” Kruse said. “Just trying to find it every game and use it to the best of my ability. It helps push the pace and get the puck in their zone, so it’s for sure my biggest attribute.”
Falcon goalie, junior Ryan Bednard stood tall all weekend, allowing only three of 38 shots to pass him. His effort would not be enough for the Falcons in game two of the series, as the Falcons could not get past his counterpart for the Wildcats, Atte Tolvanen.
The Falcons outshot the Wildcats 35-15 in game two but just could not finish when it mattered most.
“If there was one takeaway from this weekend, it’s that our powerplay needs to be better. It was not good this weekend,” Bergeron said.
The Falcons made Northern take eight penalties in each game of the series but could not convert on the chances they were given.
The Falcons will next take on the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves in Anchorage next weekend.