|BGSU's James McIntosh (17) fights for control of the puck Saturday night. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Excellent penalty-killing and quality goaltending from Andrew Hammond played major roles in Bowling Green’s 2-1 victory Saturday over 13th-ranked Western Michigan in the Ice Arena.
The Falcons — on a night they struggled to generate scoring chances on the power play — also capitalized on their grit and determination.
Hammond made 28 saves and the Falcons killed off Western’s final eight power plays, allowing them to rally for two goals in the third period.
BG broke a 1-1 tie on James McIntosh’s goal with 6:09 left. He poked in the rebound of Andrew Wallace’s shot.
The Falcons had tied the game with 13:50 to go when Cam Wojtala knocked in his own rebound from the left side of the crease. Wojtala’s goal came on a scramble, started by Bryce Williamson’s two shots.
The Falcons then had to kill a penalty with 1:50 left and that became a two-man advantage for the final 1:22 after Western pulled goalie Frank Slubowski for the extra attacker.
The Broncos took a 1-0 lead on Greg Squires’ power-play goal, just 1:21 into the game, but didn’t score again.
The teams treated a lively crowd of 2,403 to a physical and entertaining game. Western held a 29-22 edge in shots.
“All in all, we executed pretty well ... I’m pretty pleased with the way things went,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said.
The Falcons were short-handed for 21:23, more than a third of the 60-minute game, but allowed just the goal by Squires. Although Western had just 12 shots with the extra man, it still had plenty of scoring chances.
But BG was helped by Hammond’s goaltending, 13 blocked shots, and clearing the puck at key times.
Hammond played well all night, including a breakaway save in the final minute of the second period.
“The second and third periods, we really settled in and killed (penalties) the way we wanted to kill,” Bergeron said. “We’re executing more consistently to get us where we want to be (killing penalties).”
“We’ve really bought into the system,” Wojtala said. “ The main thing is the penalty-kill has to out-work the power play, and we’ve been doing that pretty well for the most part.”
The Falcons, even though they were behind until the third period, kept battling and finally scored twice.
BG improved to 2-2-2 in its last six games earning 10 out of a possible 18 points in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association against Ohio state, Alaska and Western.
“That expectation of being able to play with those teams and winning those games is becoming apparent,” Hammond said.
BG is 8-15-5 overall and 3-14-4-3 in the CCHA. The Falcons won just three league games last season.
Western (13-10-5, 10-7-3-3) fell into a second-place tie with Miami in the league, one point behind Ferris State.
“We’re starting to play with confidence and trying to get on a little bit of a roll,” Wojtala said. “We’re playing a lot better.”
The BG power play was 0-of-5, including a five-minute major overlapping the first and second periods, and a two-man advantage for 1:44 late in the second period.
BG had just 10 shots in 9:39 with the extra man.
“I’m disappointed in the power play,” Bergeron said. “We’re just not able to generate a whole lot of chances. That’s been frustrating."
BGSU 2, WESTERN MICHIGAN 1
GOALS BY PERIOD
WESTERN MICHIGAN 1 0 0 —1
BGSU 0 0 2 —2
Scoring: 1, WM Squires 4 (Leone, Kessel) 1:21 (5-4 pp).
Penalties: Berkle, BG, boarding, 0:12; Shea, BG, elbowing, 1:32; WM bench, unsportsmanlike conduct, 6:45; DeSalvo, BG, holding, 7:09; Berkle, BG, goalie interference, 8:29; Haar, WM, cross-checking, 14:25; Witkowski, WM, major-contact to the head and game misconduct, 16:31.
Penalties: Pletsch, BG, interference, 6:16; Kucera, BG, Oesterle, WM, obstruction-holding, 16:39; Tennyson, WM, holding, 16:54.
Scoring: 2, BG Wojtala 6 (DeSalvo, Williamson) 6:10. 3, BG McIntosh 2 (Wallace) 13:51.
Penalties: Perrier, BG, holding, 6:38; Shea, BG, charging and 10-minute misconduct, 9:46; DeSalvo, BG, tripping, 18:10; Walters, WM, roughing after the whistle, 18:38; Perrier, BG, roughing after whistle, 18:38.
SAVES BY PERIOD
Slubowski, WM 6 8 6 —20
Hammond, BG 8 13 7 —28
Goalie statistics (goals against/minutes played): (WM) Slubowski 2/58:33, Empty net 0/1:27; (BG) Hammond 1/60.
Penalties-Minutes: WM 7-25, BG 11-30. Power plays: WM 1-9, BG 0-5. Attendance: 2,403.