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Burke enables Falcons to earn split at NMU (3-1-14) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sentinel Sports Staff   
Saturday, 01 March 2014 22:28
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Mike Sullivan (right) and the Falcons celebrate after Sullivan scored in the second period. (Photo: Adelle Whitefoot/The Mining Journal)
MARQUETTE, Mich. — Tommy Burke kept Bowling Green in the thick of the race for home ice in the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.
The sophomore made 15 of his 37 saves in the third period Saturday to preserve the Falcons’ 3-2 win over Northern Michigan.  BOX SCORE WCHA SCORES WCHA STANDINGS
The win enabled the Falcons to pull into a three-way tie for fourth place with Alaska (Fairbanks) and Alaska-Anchorage in the WCHA with 26 points, pending the outcome of UAF’s home game against WCHA leader Ferris State later Saturday night.
BG also pulled within two points of third-place Michigan Tech entering the final weekend of the regular season.
The top eight teams in the league earn playoff berths, with the top four teams hosting quarterfinal series.
All 10 teams in the league play two-game league series next weekend.
“It’s great to get a win,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said.
The Falcons ended a five-game (0-4-1) winless streak. They hadn’t won in over a month, their last victory coming Jan. 25 against Lake Superior.
BG entered the game just 9-8-4 when scoring first and 11-6-2 when leading after two periods.
Had BG lost Saturday, it would have in a three-way tie for seventh in the WCHA.
“We’ve struggled the last little bit to win games,” Bergeron said. “We haven’t played good enough for long enough in games, but tonight we found a way to win and I’m really happy for the guys.”
BG rebounded from a poor performance in Friday’s 4-1 loss to play a good first period in the series finale, building a 3-0 lead in the first 22 minutes.
Ralfs Freibergs opened the scoring at 13:07 and Ryan Carpenter increased the lead to 2-0 just 3:53 later with his second goal of the series.
BG made it 3-0 on Mike Sullivan’s power-play goal at 1:33 of the second period. Carpenter assisted on the goal.
“We felt we were jumping in the first period,” Bergeron said. “Our start set the tone for the game, and gave us some positive positive thoughts, some positive momentum which we’ve been struggling with a little bit.”
But NMU quickly closed within 3-2 on goals from John Siemer at 3:21 and Erik Higby 15 seconds later.
The NMU goals resulted from a BG backchecking mistake and a turnover.
“We got to the third goal, and then we had our five-minute spell where the wheels are coming off,” Bergeron said.
NMU — using its speed and skill — was all over BG during the third period, holding a 15-3 edge in shots.  BG also had too many turnovers.
Like all parts of BG’s game, the Falcons’ goaltending hasn’t been sharp of late.
“(Burke) was up to the challenge,” Bergeron said. “He really settled in after that (NMU made it 3-2) and really had a strong third period. He closed the door.”
Many of NMU’s shots came on quality scoring chances.
Even though the Falcons have struggled holding leads, they remained positive on the bench after NMU made it 3-2.
“The older guys did a good job of calming everybody down and we just proceeded from there,” Bergeron said. “We were still winning, but we’re fighting ourselves with that confidence and that positive mind-set. The bench was pretty positive and I wasn’t going to let it get negative. We’ve had enough of that and we stayed pretty positive.”
The Falcons remained without Cam Wojtala (lower-body injury) and Brent Tate (knee), who are two of the team’s top nine forwards.
Last Updated on Monday, 03 March 2014 09:31
 

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