By Ben Shanahan
Special to the Sentinel-Tribune
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — Thanks to the nation’s leading scorer, Lake Superior State nipped Bowling Green State University hockey, 4-3, in overtime at Taffy Abel Arena on Saturday.
Lake Superior State senior forward Jared Westcott was the hero in the series’ second game, sending the Falcons home with a series split and earning four of six points on the weekend.
Westcott, who had two goals, now leads the nation in points and goals.
“Jared has been a difference-maker, obviously. Another great weekend,” Lake Superior State coach Damon Whitten said.
Thanks to Westcott, he “kind of” scored a third goal, but for the Falcons at a most inopportune time.
“He actually had a third goal, but it ended up in our net. Unfortunately, a tough break on their goal late to tie it up went off Jared trying to defend our net,” Whitten said.
“Another great game. He is the difference in that game. We cannot wait for him to do everything, but it is incredible to see him lead the nations in points and goals.”
BGSU coach Ty Eigner was disappointed with the result but pleased that his team bounced back from the previous week’s sweep.
“We got away from our game in the second period and found ourselves down a goal going into the third,” Eigner said.
“To our guys’ credit, we played really well in the third and tied it up. Tough way to end, but four of six points on the road is not bad.”
The Falcons fall to 3-9 overall and 1-3 in the CCHA, while the Lakers finish the weekend 6-6 and 3-3.
BGSU went on the power play early as an LSSU player was called for a slash on BGSU freshman Brody Waters, who was well on his way for a possible score on a breakaway.
The Falcons did capitalize on the ensuing power play as Waters screened the LSSU goalie, and senior Spencer Kersten scored his fourth goal of the season, giving the Falcons the 1-0 lead with 14:32 left in the first.
Just over a minute later, the Lakers tied it as Reagan Milburn scored his first collegiate goal with 13:18 left in the opening frame.
The scoring frenzy continued, and the Falcons regained the lead with Owen Ozar’s second goal as a Falcon. Ozar found the puck on his stick and sent it to the right side of the net, making it 2-1 with 12:20 left in the first.
Two minutes later, BGSU freshman Gustav Stjernberg headed to the box for a trip that the Falcons killed off with 8:20 left in the first period.
In the late minutes of the first, the Lake Superior State bench was called, for the second night in a row, for too many men on the ice with 1:22 left, and for the second night in a row, the Lakers would kill it off, but this time at the start of the second period.
With 17:58 left in the second, BG freshman Breck McKinley sat for two minutes for a tripping penalty that the Falcons ended up killing off.
The Lakers tied it, however, at the 14:33 mark, as Joshua Wildauer passed it to Carter Batchelder, who smacked the puck out of the air baseball-style in front of BGSU freshman goalie Cole Moore, tying the game at two goals for each team.
Later in the period, McKinley served his second tripping penalty, and one minute and seven seconds later, both teams played 4-on-4 hockey because Jared Westcott was called for a hold. Neither team converted and the 2-2 tie continued with 5:50 left in the middle frame.
With 28 seconds left in the second, disaster struck for the Falcons as Westcott gave his team the lead and at the same time, found himself alone on the top of the NCAA goal scorer list with a one-timer beating Moore on the top shelf.
Lake Superior State held the lead until late in the third period. With 3:58 left in regulation, BGSU point leader Ryan O’Hara scored his eighth goal of the season, tying it at three and ultimately sending the game to overtime.
Early in the 3-on-3 overtime, BGSU had a solid chance to score but the puck bounced loose and Westcott took advantage, scoring on a breakaway with 4:30 left in the extra period to win the game.
Bowling Green will continue CCHA play when they host Northern Michigan at Slater Family Ice Arena for a two-game home series this Friday and Saturday with the puck dropping at 7:07 for both games.
Game one will serve as Dollar Night. Game two will be Community Night and Epilepsy Awareness Night.