Power play heroics and a strong penalty kill allow Bowling Green to dominate Western Michigan in a 2-1 victory.
The Falcons came out fast, peppering as many shot attempts as they could on Bronco goaltender Brandon Bussi. By the end of the frame, they were out-shooting Western Michigan 16-3, with the Falcons thinking they could have come away with a couple of goals.
“Tonight, from start to finish, was the most consistent effort in that kind of performance that we’ve had up until this point,” head coach Ty Eigner said.
On two occasions BGSU had goals waved off from officials on account of the whistle being blown prior to the puck crossing the line. Sam Craggs looked to have fooled everyone by redirecting a Taylor Schneider centering attempt but after the celebration from players and fans, it was announced the goal was negated.
“We knew we could play with these guys, even though they’re a great team. We knew from the last game that we had a lot more fight in us,” Max Johnson said.
The Broncos made it clear early on they were going to be pests throughout the night. Johnson and Schneider were stapled to the ice for most of the period as WMU looked to teach a lesson to any Falcon crossing the neutral zone with his head down.
“You can be hard to play against and be Alex Barber’s size or Brandon Kruse’s size or T.J. Lloyd’s size,” Eigner said. “We want to play hard. Playing hard means you compete.”
At the start of the second period, Bowling Green lost one of its better defensemen. Tim Theocharidis was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct on a blindside elbow to the head of Wade Allison, but the Falcons killed off the penalty and boosted momentum going forward, despite being down a man on the bench.
“The six (defensemen) that were still out there did a great job,” Eigner said. “A bunch of guys played in some scenarios and situations that they didn’t necessarily play in a bunch before.”
Lloyd and Garrett Daly, two freshman defensemen, saw an uptick in ice time, while Will Cullen, the smooth-skating puck-mover, had some time on the penalty kill.
In retaliation, the Broncos made sure they were going to buck the Falcons. Booming body shots found Falcons left and right until undisciplined penalties gave way. Mattias Samuelsson was given a 10-minute misconduct on an unsportsmanlike penalty, putting WMU down a defender for the majority of the second frame.
Western Michigan took four more penalties in the period, but it was not until the five-on-three advantage with three minutes remaining that Bowling Green was able to find the net. Freddy Letourneau redirected a T.J. Lloyd point shot and beat Bussi through the wickets to put BGSU up 1-0.
“The last three games we played we weren’t generating that much,” Johnson said. “It was nice to execute on those. Especially the penalty kill. Wow… I think that gave us the momentum for the power play guys.”
Earlier in the period, Eric Dop stopped some major chances from the Broncos in the second period. He did not face a barrage of shot but was able to smother two back-to-back attempts from the low slot.
Entering the third period, the Falcons had attempted 53 shots and were looking to sneak away from Western Michigan with a 1-0 win. Hugh McGing had other plans as he converted a net-front redirection and tied the game with 2:02 left in regulation.
Discipline became a problem again for the Broncos; however, as Mattias Samuelsson took a cross-checking penalty with five minutes remaining. Thirty-two seconds later, Max Johnson collects the change on an Alec Rauhauser blocked shot and cashes in with a shot upstairs to pull Bowling Green ahead 2-1.
The goal would be Johnson’s first on the year, and it would mark a conversion on the man advantage that players had been looking for.
“It was nice for me (to score) because our power play has just been, like, okay. So it was nice to get one up on the board and get our confidence up, get our momentum going,” Johnson said.
Dop and company would hold on for the win, moving BGSU to 2-2 on the season. The Falcons now travel to Kalamazoo, Michigan to take on WMU Saturday night.