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(Updated 10:15 p.m. BGSU hockey beaten by No. 15 Minnesota State in WCHA Final Five PDF Print E-mail
Written by KEVIN GORDON, Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor   
Friday, 21 March 2014 16:24
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Bowling Green’s Brett Mohler (24) skates after the puck as Minnesota State’s Michael Huntebrinker (17) looks on Friday afternoon in the WCHA semifinals. (Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Bowling Green’s hockey team had played consistently well during its last four games.
But the Falcons had little going for them Friday.
They didn’t play well offensively or defensively en route to a 4-0 loss to 15th-ranked Minnesota State in the semifinals of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Final Five at Van Andel Arena.  BOX SCORE WCHA SCORES
Cole Huggins made 36 saves to lead a solid defensive effort by the Mavericks, who scored twice in each of the final two periods.
Each team had 36 shots on goal, but MSU held the upper hand most of the game to advance to Saturday’s championship game against No. 4 Ferris State (28-9-3), a 5-4 overtime winner over Alaska Anchorage in Friday’s other semifinal.
“Just not sharp, not what we had been the last four games,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said.
The Falcons had won five straight games, including solid performances in sweeps of Bemidji State and Michigan Tech the last two weekends. BG finished 18-15-6.
MSU improved to 25-13-1, including an 11-0-1 record in its last 12 games.
“(MSU) played very well,” Bergeron said. “Full marks to them. They deserve it. Our level of execution wasn’t even close to what it had been.’’
BG had a chance to stay in the game on the power play, but it was ineffective in a 0-of-6 effort and allowed a short-handed goal that gave MSU a 2-0 lead.
BG had just six shots in 10:07 with the extra man and gave up three shots to MSU’s penalty-killing unit.
The Mavericks pressured BG’s power play at both ends of the ice.
“The power play was a mirror image of our team today,” Bergeron said. “I give (MSU) a bunch of credit. They executed at a really high level which is what they’ve been doing for the second half of the year.”
The Falcon power play was hot down the stretch, scoring nine times in 22 chances during the last seven games. MSU’s penalty-killing is fifth nationally at 86.5 percent.
“We got out-worked on the power play,” BG junior captain Ryan Carpenter. “They have a good penalty-kill, and we took our foot off the gas.”
The short-handed goal by Bryce Gervais at 12:47 of the second period was the back-breaker for the Falcons.
Gervais, who scored his seventh goal in the last six games, capitalized after BG goalie Tommy Burke miscommunicated with his defender to the left of the net near the boards.
Burke left the puck there and Gervais beat the BG defender to quickly take control of the puck. Gervais circled in front and scored on a wraparound on the right side before Burke could get set again in goal.
Burke may not have known Gervais was coming hard.
“We thought one of the keys to the penalty-kill was getting pressure on them and getting a good forecheck,” said Gervais, who had a goal and two assists. “I’m just trying to beat the defenseman there to the puck.”
The Falcons never recovered.
“You’re on the power play looking to tie the game and then you’re down 2-0 on a mental error … it’s difficult,” Bergeron said. “It’s something that I didn’t think totally deflated us on the bench. Watching how we played after that, I think it deflated us more than what I thought.”
Puck exchanges between BG’s defense and goalies have been an issue all season.
“It was a little bit of a momentum killer, but we tried to stay as positive as we could and bounce back as quickly as we could,” Carpenter said.
Chase Grant gave MSU a 1-0 lead at 3:52 of the second period when he scored on a 3-on-2 rush.
The Mavericks closed out the win with third-period goals from Johnny McInnis on a 3-on-1 at 10:47 and Matt Leitner into an empty net with 1:32 remaining.
Although the Falcons had the 36 shots, they didn’t have many rebound chances and MSU blocked 21 of BG’s total shot attempts
Huggins, who is eighth nationally with a 1.94 goals-against average, stopped Pierre-Luc Mercier on a first-period breakaway.
Huggins, a freshman, also a handful of other point-blank stops to post his sixth shutout.
“We had a few chances, but we didn’t bury them,” Mercier said.
Last Updated on Saturday, 22 March 2014 09:00
 

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