|Updated 11:30 p.m., Falcon hockey earns sweep of Bemidji (3-8-14)|
|Written by Kevin Gordon Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Saturday, 08 March 2014 22:25|
Bowling Green had plenty of reasons to be happy Saturday night in the Ice Arena.
The Falcons played well en route to a 5-2 win over Bemidji State.
And about an hour later, they learned they’ll be hosting Michigan Tech in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association quarterfinals. BOX SCORE WCHA STANDINGS WCHA SCORES
BG moved into a tie with Alaska (Fairbanks) for third place in the WCHA, pending the outcome of Alaska’s home game against Alaska-Anchorage later Saturday night.
But Alaska already was guaranteed the third seed for the playoffs, based on its having more league wins than BG. The Falcons are the No. 4 seed.
The easiest way for the Falcons to earn home ice for the first time since 2008 was to beat Bemidji and have Michigan Tech lose or tie at Minnesota State.
Tech and MSU played a 1-1 tie, giving BG the final home-ice spot and Ferris State the league title. Ferris was a 2-1 winner over Lake Superior.
Even Bemidji went home happy as it earned the final playoff spot. The Beavers and Lake Superior tied for eighth, but Bemidji won the season series from the Lakers.
BG was guaranteed no worse than fifth entering Saturday. Tech is the fifth seed.
The Falcons and Tech play a best-of-3 series next weekend.
“That’s all we knew we could do ... control what we could control,” said BG captain Cam Wojtala, who returned after missing three games with a lower-body injury.
He was one of eight seniors who played their final regular-season home game.
BG won its third straight game to improve to 16-14-6 overall and 13-11-4 in the WCHA, its first winning record in league play since 2005.
BG also was sharp Friday in a 5-3 win over Bemidji.
“We needed to get some momentum going into the playoffs,” Wojtala said. “We were doing things right, being a little more consistent and we did that this weekend.”
The Falcons scored the final four goals — two each in both the second and third periods — to erase a 2-1 deficit.
“We showed that resiliency,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said. “Our guys stayed fairly level. We just kept playing. It was key we were able to stay mentally focused and just continue to play whether it was a goal for or a goal against.”
Kevin Dufour tied the game on the power play at 5:47 from the right circle, just 3:05 after Bemidji had taken the lead.
BG then went ahead for good when Ben Murphy scored from the right circle at 16:51.
The Falcons added insurance goals in the third period from Dufour on the power play at 8:45 and DeSalvo, 1:52 later.
Bryce Williamson had the other BG goal, that coming on the power play in the first period. BG held a 31-21 edge in shots, with Tommy Burke making 19 saves.
“The effort was really good and for the most part our execution was pretty good,” Bergeron said.
BG — although it played well overall Friday — had fewer turnovers and defensive mistakes Saturday.
“Two good efforts for us,” Bergeron said of the weekend.
Special teams also fueled the Falcons, who were 3-of-5 on the power play and killed off all six of Bemidji’s chances with the extra man.
Two of the penalty-kills were 5-on-3s, covering 1:30 and 1:25.
“Special teams were really huge,” Bergeron said.
The first 5-on-3 kill came with the score tied 2-2. Murphy put BG ahead 3-2 just 38 seconds after BG returned to full strength.
The second came with BG holding a 5-2 lead with 4:41 remaining in the game.
The Beavers had just eight shots on the power play.
“Those (5-on-3) kills were huge,” said Wojtala, a member of the penalty-killing unit. “You get a lot of momentum. The guys really rally around that and it sucks the wind out of the other team as well because you’re looked at as needing to score in those situations.”
The BG power play was 4-of-7 in the series after Bemidji entered the weekend fourth nationally in penalty-killing.
“Our power play was really strong,” Bergeron said.
BG’s power play has scored in five straight games, going 7-of-15 in that span.
|Last Updated on Saturday, 08 March 2014 23:34|
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