SYLVANIA — Bowling Green junior defenseman Braden Loomis scored the overtime game-winner to give the Bobcats a 5-4 victory over Findlay in regional quarterfinal tournament action at Tam-O-Shanter Friday.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Loomis fired his shot from just one foot inside the blue line with 6:43 still remaining in the extra period, assisted by senior forward Camden McIntosh. It was Loomis’ fourth goal and 10th point of the season.
“It was about two and a half minutes into overtime, and we came out into overtime and we controlled the whole two minutes,” BG coach Connor Rogowski said.
“We came out blazing, we were working the puck down low, the puck came out low up to the point and he fired it, and we screened the goalie in front.”
Findlay had beaten BG twice in Northwest Hockey Conference Red Division play, so turning the tables on the Trojans resulted in a huge celebration after Loomis’ game-winner.
“It was unbelievable — it was the bench and in the locker room after. You know, for our seniors to be able to experience that was great,” Rogowski said.
Bowling Green (15-16-4) advances to the regional semifinals, two games away from qualifying for the state final four. Findlay’s season ends at 17-13-1.
The Bobcats will take on NHC Red Division champion Sylvania Northview (22-8-3) at 6 p.m. next Thursday at Tam-O-Shanter with the winner advancing to the regional final. The Wildcats defeated Toledo Whitmer (8-19-1), 10-0, in its regional quarterfinal.
Rogowski said the Bobcats had a great week of practice after losing their final regular season game to the same team, the Trojans, 3-0, at Bowling Green State University’s Slater Family Ice Arena.
During their last practice, he reminded his players how the Trojans scored, including two power play goals. Rogowski said at Tam-O-Shanter his team was focused.
“They were focused, they had a great week of practice, and they were ready to go and they came out like it,” Rogowski said.
“We went out, we had our theme to win — win every shift, win a period, and then win the day,” Rogowski continued. “We had to come out, we had to control the game, and we had to play with intensity.
“Our three words were ‘willingness, intensity and no regrets,’ and we came out and we played like that. We put it to them, we battled them down low, we won the loose puck battles, and we played well.”
However, the Trojans got the early hand, taking a 2-1 lead after one period. Chris Eickholt scored on an assist from Mason Greenawalt and Noah Schramko scored, assisted by Colin Somverville for Findlay.
In between the Trojans’ goals, with 6:30 left in the period, BG sophomore forward Tanner Amos scored, assisted by Loomis.
BG scored two unanswered in the second to take a 3-2 lead, and both goals came within a minute of each other.
Senior forward Ethan Helvoigt scored unassisted with 3:31 remaining in the second and Amos scored his second goal on a dish from junior forward Drake Joseph just 55 seconds later.
In the third, Findlay did the same thing, scoring twice unanswered to take a 4-3 lead. Greenawalt scored on an assist from Draven Wilson and Nate Riegle scored, assisted by Matt Pinski.
Bring in BG senior defenseman Caden Wisniewski to the rescue, scoring the tying goal with 50 seconds remaining, thanks to assists from Amos and senior defenseman Easton Schick.
“We knew we were going to face adversity,” Rogowski said. “We were up 3-2 going into the third period, and we did face adversity.
“We lost the lead in the third and we tied it with 50 seconds left, and we just kept believing and that was a big thing,” Rogowski continued.
“We just kept believing, we never got down with each other and we kept fighting. We fought to the end. We came out on top.”
Findlay outshot BG, 32-25, but BG junior goaltender Cade Contris had 28 saves in getting the win while Findlay goalie Seth Russell had 20 saves.
The Bobcats also played a clean game, getting whistled for only one penalty, a two-minute tripping call in the first period.
There were no power play goals by either team, plus there were no major penalties whistled against any player. Findlay was whistled for eight minutes, leading to four power play opportunities for BG.
BG has been led all season by top scorers Helvoigt (22 goals, 25 assists), Amos (18 goals, 12 assits), and sophomore forward Rhett Winger (15 goals, 24 assists), but then a defenseman, Schick, follows at eight goals and 19 assists.
Schick was the only BG player to earn NHC all-league honors, getting second team.
“Easton has been a player who plays defense, but he jumps up to offense when he has to. He goes back and forth,” Rogowski said.
“He’s been a player who has been a building block and a center piece to our team this year, even when things have went downhill a little bit, he’s been a player who has continued to build and help us keep going.
“He’s the only four-year letter winner on this team, so he’s the last one still here from when I came in, so it’s kind of special to see him do that.”
However, the Bobcats have had to battle injuries throughout the season.
“A big player was (junior forward) Cooper Feehan when he got hurt in November. He was coming out in the first 14 games he got 15 points, so he was going to be one of those impact players for us and we knew it,” Rogowski said.
“Unfortunately, he got injured and he took away some offense from our team, but he’s been a part of every single day, been to every single practice, every single game working on rehabbing himself for next year because he is a junior.
“That is the one good part about it is that he’ll be back. (Junior forward) Niko Kuhn was another one who got hurt and he was out the rest of the year as well.
“We’ve been bouncing around with other injuries throughout — we’ve had a lot of injuries this year. It seems like after injuries, on Monday it is, ‘When are we going to be healthy?’ You know, that’s the way the sport goes, though.”