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Falcons’ solid defense makes 1-goal lead stick

03/15/2014, 1:33am EDT
By RACHEL LENZI BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Defense lifts BGSU hockey in win

BOWLING GREEN — Two goals weren’t going to be enough for the Bowling Green hockey team.

The Falcons needed more than just a pair of first-period goals from Bryce Williamson and Ryan Carpenter in the opening game of a first-round WCHA playoff series. They needed a sound defensive effort in the second and third periods to secure a 2-1 win over Michigan Tech on Friday at BGSU Ice Arena.

“You have to stick with what you’ve been doing the whole game,” Carpenter said. “You can’t sit back and be cautious. You’ve got to stay aggressive and stick to your game plan, and know that they’re going to take risks later in the game, so we don’t have to force chances. We don’t have to pinch guys and take risks. We have to keep it a simple game, like we had been all game.”

Carpenter scored the deciding goal midway through the first period to help the Falcons (17-14-6) earn their first home playoff win in six seasons; the Falcons defeated Lake Superior State 2-1 in a Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoff series in 2008.

With a minute left in the third, Michigan Tech (14-18-7) pulled goalie Pheonix Copley in favor of a sixth skater and spent the bulk of that final minute in the Falcons’ end of the ice.

“They’ve got some talent who can score,” BG goalie Tommy Burke (24 saves) said of Michigan Tech. “We had to stay composed and [Andrew] Wallace did his best job against their players all night. We work on that in practice, too. We work on 6-on-5 in both sides. So we’re ready for that in games, but really, it’s like a penalty kill, but it’s a little better because we have one more guy.”

Williamson gave Bowling Green a 1-0 lead at 5:55 of the first on a shot from the right circle that ricocheted off the goal cage behind Copley (22 saves) and less than two minutes after David Johnstone’s power-play goal tied the game at 1-1, Carpenter gave the Falcons a 2-1 lead at 11:52 when he picked up his own rebound off Copley in front of the crease.

After a scoreless second, BG defenseman Ralfs Freibergs brought down C.J. Eick as he skated in to take a shot on Burke at 2:48 of the third and while it stopped a scoring chance, it left the Falcons shorthanded. Killing the penalty provided the Falcons a spark.

“It was big momentum for us,” Carpenter said of killing the penalty. “Any time you can kill a penalty, I think that gives your team energy. It gives us confidence after they scored on the first [power play]. That’s big going into [today], having that confidence on the penalty kill.”

BG missed a chance to take a two-goal lead with 11:03 left when Ben Murphy took Mark Cooper’s feed and shot high of the Michigan Tech goal on a 2-on-1 attempt, but the Falcons allowed just 13 shots on goal in the second and third.

“Game one was huge,” Falcons coach Chris Bergeron said. “They’ve had a tough couple weeks, in terms of their travel and those were two teams going as hard as they could. I know these are college kids but that was a man’s game out there, in terms of stick battles and physical battles. I think it was a huge, huge game for us to get.”

The best-of-three series continues at 7:07 p.m. today at BGSU Ice Arena.

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510, or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.

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