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Updated 1:40 a.m., BGSU hockey beats Bemidji to clinch playoff berth (3-7-14) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kevin Gordon Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor   
Friday, 07 March 2014 22:25
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Bowling Green's Sean Walker (middle) celebrates near Bemidji State's Sam Windle (right) during second period after scoring Bowling Green's fourth goal again Bemidji State. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Bowling Green clinched a berth in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs Friday night.
Now, they’ll try to earn home ice in the playoffs Saturday.
The Falcons played well overall en route in 5-3 win over Bemidji State at the Ice Arena.
Kevin Dufour, Ben Murphy and Sean Walker each had one goal and one assist for BG, which scored three straight goals in the second period to pull away from a 2-2 tie.   BOX SCORE WCHA STANDINGS WCHA SCORES PHOTO GALLERY
The Falcons finished with a 27-19 edge in shots.
Except for a handful of defensive lapses and a handful of turnovers, BG played well and was in control territorially most of the game.
Mark Cooper and Ryan Carpenter had the other BG goals, and Pierre-Luc Mercier and Mike Sullivan both had two assists.
“I was happy with the fact we controlled what we could, which is our game,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said. “I would think the guys feel good about that and that we’re in the playoffs.”
BG moved into a tie with Michigan Tech for fourth-place in the 10-team league, two points behind third-place Alaska.
BG and Tech each have 28 points, two ahead of Alaska-Anchorage. Tech was a 3-0 loser at WCHA co-leader Minnesota State Friday. while Alaska was a 7-2 winner at home over Anchorage.
The easiest way for BG to earn home ice Saturday is to beat Bemidji and to have Tech lose or tie at MSU.
BG, 15-14-6 overall and 12-11-4 in the league, has won two straight games after going 0-4-1 in late January and February. It hasn’t hosted a playoff series since 2008.
The top eight teams make the playoffs, with the top four host first-round series.
Bemidji (10-18-7, 10-13-4) is tied with Lake Superior for the final playoff spot.
“There’s a little bit of relief, but I don’t want to overstate that, though, because today was an opportunity,” Bergeron said when asked about clinching a playoff berth. “We’ve been trying to focus on one day at a time and control what we can, all of those things we try to live by.”
The Falcons answered Bemidji’s tying goal in the second period with three straight goals for a 5-2 lead.
Dufour was on the left side of the crease to tip in Walker’s point shot, putting BG ahead for good, just 72 seconds after Bemidji tied the game.
BG  increased to the lead to 5-2 on goals by Walker from the right circle on the power play at 8:34 and Carpenter on a rebound from the right side of the crease just 2:06 later.
“They pushed and we knew we had to step it up a notch and push back and not given them any life,” Walker said. “For us to score again and add a couple (goals) back-to-back shows we can dominate teams when we’re playing the right way.”
“That was a huge response,” Bergeron said of BG’s three goals.
First-period goals from Murphy at 6:50 and Cooper at 11:08 gave BG a 2-1 lead. Bemidji took a 1-0 lead at 4:50.
The Falcons controlled most of the game by possessing the puck in their offensive zone. They created scoring chances off that and kept the speedy Beavers under control.
Bemidji prefers to play a fast-paced game, especially its top line of Markus Gerbrandt, Cory Ward and Brendan Harms.
“When we were doing that, we were a handful to defend,” Bergeron said. “When we didn’t do that, we left things to chance and that’s something we have to clean up for tomorrow.
“They want to get up and go and they’re good at it,” Bergeron added. “ That top line creates headaches for whomever and they push hard.”
Although BG gave up the three goals, it allowed just the 19 shots. All three Bemidji goals resulted from BG breakdowns. The Falcons’ Tommy Burke had 16 saves.
The BG power play was 1-of-2, and Bemidji was 0-of-3.
BG was without senior captain and forward Cam Wojtala (lower-body injury). No decision has been made on if Wojtala will play tonight which is BG’s Senior Night.
Bergeron said it’s more important to have Wojtala healthy for the post-season than it is for him to play tonight.
Last Updated on Saturday, 08 March 2014 09:10
 

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