It’s only early December and while both teams made mistakes it was a high tension affair in the Ice Arena Friday evening.
Toledo St. Francis’ Kevin Hack scored twice in the final 1:37 of the game to beat Bowling Green, 5-3.
It was the first Northwest Hockey Conference Red Division game for both teams. St. Francis is 4-1 overall and BG is 3-2.
“We are proud of the team and proud of the kids. Anybody who watched that game knows that they worked their tails off from the drop of the puck to the end of the game,” BG head coach Eddie Powers said.
Hack, who also had an assist in the game, scored on the power play with 1:37 left as Gabe Barrow made a very nice pass across the crease and Hack was open on the far post to tip the puck into the net.
Then with just 27.7 seconds left in the game, Hack scored into the empty net as BG goalie Brett Rich was pulled for the extra attacker.
“We drew up something real quick and went back door. Kevin was wide open. I think they forgot about him and he banged it home,” St. Francis head coach Chris Varga said about the game-winner.
The Bobcats were playing shorthanded with only 13 skaters, including four defense men.
“We are shorthanded, but that’s who we are,” Powers said. “Absolutely (we were tired). We were only able to play a couple of lines; our D (defense) was a little short also.
“We are trying to slow the game down, we are trying to get as many breathers as we can. When you get a couple of penalties and stuff like that it makes it even harder.”
Varga was impressed with BG’s effort despite its short bench.
“BG never quit. They only had 13, 14 guys but you wouldn’t know it. It seemed like they had a full bench and they just kept coming at us,” Varga said.
In the first period, both teams generated good scoring chances with Rich making nine saves and Jacob Coward stopping 10 shots for St. Francis.
The Knights scored first on Matt Snyder’s goal just 3:28 into the game.
BG’s Logan Bergeron had a chance to tie the game when he was in alone on Coward, but his shot hit the post.
Bergeron did take advantage of a St. Francis defender slipping, allowing him to again go in alone again and his backhander went over Coward’s shoulder and into the net with 6:37 left in the period.
St. Francis regained the lead, 2-1, with 1.8 seconds left in the period on Nick Daly’s goal after a scramble in front of the goal.
The Knights took a 3-1 lead on a shorthanded goal by Warren Natyshak at the 5:56 mark of the second period. Natyshak’s father, Mike, played hockey for the Bowling Green Falcons.
Rich made two big saves to keep it a two-goal margin before the Bobcats scored twice in the final 2:48 of the period to tie the game. Rich had 12 saves in the period while BG scored on two of its four shots.
BG freshman Jackson Bevins beat Coward at the 12:12 mark on an unassisted goal.
Just 1:05 later Bergeron notched his second goal of the game on a very good pass from Blake Powers as BG was in a 3-on-1 against Coward.
“You look at our team and the challenges that we have had early in the year, our kids have shown time and time again that they don’t quit,” coach Powers said. “You look at the end of that period and we came back and score a couple of goals and get the momentum. We certainly felt good going into the locker room. That was something that was positive.”
The game remained tied for over 13 minutes in the third period, before Hack took advantage of a BG interference penalty and an empty net to give the Knights the win.
Rich finished with 31 saves and Coward had 18.
“He is going to be a positive all year,” coach Powers said about Rich. “When you have a guy like that you are going to lean on him, especially with our numbers. He showed tonight why he is probably one of the best goalies in the state.”
The two teams play again next Friday at Tam-O-Shanter with faceoff scheduled at 7 p.m.
ST. FRANCIS 5, BGHS 3
GOALS BY PERIOD
ST, FRANCIS 2 1 2 —5
BGHS 1 2 0 —3
Scoring: 1, SF, Snyder (Mitchell, Barrow) 3:28. 2, BG, Bergeron (unassisted) 6:37. 3, Daly (Hack) 14:58.
Scoring: 4, SF, Natyshak (Mitchell) SH 5:56. 5, BG, Bevins (unassisted) 12:12. 6, BG, Bergeron (Powers) 13:17.
Scoring: 7, SF, Hack (Barrow) PP 13:23. 8, SF, Hack (unassisted) 14:32 empty net.
SAVES BY PERIOD
Coward, SF 10 4 4 —18
Rich, BG 9 12 10 —31
Penalties-Minutes: SF, 3-6. BG, 4-8. Power plays: SF 1-4, BG 0-3.