BG’s Austen Swankler, front, moves the puck past Lake Superior State’s Grant Hindman Friday night at the Slater Family Ice Arena.

J.D. Pooley | Sentinel-Tribune

A conference win is a great way to start the new year, especially when it is the third straight win.

The Bowling Green men’s hockey team (11-12, 8-7 Central Collegiate Hockey Association) won 5-2 against the Lake Superior State Lakers (3-16-2, 2-10-1 CCHA) at the Slater Family Ice Arena on Friday.

This game marked BGSU freshman netminder Salvatore Evola’s first start between the pipes and his second appearance since stepping in against Ohio State last December. Evola also picked up his first collegiate win with a total of 28 saves for the night.

Sophomore forward Austen Swankler extends his point streak to 13 games, remaining at the top of the leaderboards among the Falcons. In the third, defensemen Ben Wozney and Zach Vinnell recorded their first goal of the season.

The Falcons started off hot with junior forward Ethan Scardina scoring a quick power play goal less than a minute into the contest to make it 1-0 BGSU.

BGSU head coach Ty Eigner makes a call from the bench. (Photo by J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)

Seconds later, the Lakers got their own man advantage time, but Bowling Green’s strong penalty kill did not allow any retaliation. For the first half of the period, LSSU kept trying for their first goal, but Evola denied any chances.

Instead, Falcon fifth-year senior Nathan Burke redirected the puck past Lakers goaltender Ethan Langenegger’s net and extended the lead to 2-0, BGSU. A couple of penalties tried to hinder the Falcons’ rhythm, but the first period came to a close with the Falcons still up by two goals.

Another fast start came for the Falcons as freshman Quinn Emerson took advantage of a turnover and scored to make it 3-0 BGSU early in the second period.

With six minutes left in the second, the Lakers found their break with a major penalty on junior Ryan O’Hara. Two minutes later, junior Harrison Roy finally got the Lakers on the board with a power play goal to make it 3-1 BGSU.

BGSU killed off the rest of the major, and the period ended with a two-goal advantage for the Falcons.

After a somewhat quiet start to the third, Falcon defenseman Ben Wozney scored on the power play to give the Falcons a 4-1 lead.

Despite the numerous BGSU penalties, the special teams stood out to ensure that the Lakers had to fight hard for another point on the board.

While Bowling Green took over the ice for most of the game, Roy grabbed a power play goal with five minutes to go to make it 4-2, BGSU.

With two minutes left, Langenegger left the net in exchange for a sixth man. However, BG defenseman Zach Vinnell got the puck in the empty net to seal the deal for the Falcons.

The Falcons and the Lakers face off for the final time this season at the Slater Arena Saturday at 7:07 p.m.