After Friday night’s game that saw the No. 7 Bowling Green State Falcons blow leads of 2-0 and 3-2, things looked eerily similar Saturday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena as the visitors took a 3-0 lead. The No. 11 Michigan Tech Huskies battled back, but their comeback ultimately fell short, 3-2.
“Against good teams, it is going to be hard to score yourself back into games,” said Huskies coach Mel Pearson. “We just have to be sure we shore that up and play better.”
After jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the second period, during a four-on-four situation, the Falcons struck again with what would stand as the game-winner when center Pierre-Luc Mercier found himself alone in front of Jamie Phillips after Huskies winger Brent Baltus missed him on a backcheck. Mercier took a pass from defenseman Mark Freidman and beat Phillips at 9:24.
“I am happy with the win, for sure,” said Falcons coach Chris Bergeron. “We knew coming up here was going to be very difficult. Obviously there was a good stretch of the second period there. Coming up here and getting the split, that’s something that is going to stick with us.”
The Huskies had the game’s first good scoring chance when winger C.J. Eick fed the puck from the left corner to winger Joel L’Esperance cutting to the goal. His shot was stopped by Falcons goalie Tommy Burke.
With 17 seconds left in the period, the Huskies sprung Eick on a breakaway. He attempted a backhand deke, but Burke made the save, one of his 38 for the game.
The Huskies came out flying in the second period and dominated the first seven minutes of action, despite not scoring.
The Falcons (14-4-4 overall, 10-2-2 WCHA) finally had some sustained offense on their next shift and nearly scored when Adam Berkle cut in front of the net with the puck. He was stopped, but the next shot from defenseman Connor Kucera was not as he beat Phillips at 7:29.
After a penalty was called first on the Falcons and then on the Huskies, the teams played four-on-four. The Falcons enjoyed the challenge, striking twice.
The first goal came from winger Brandon Hawkins on a two-on-one. He took a pass from center Mark Cooper and beat Phillips at 9:04. Mercier’s goal quickly followed.
Matt Wintjes was inserted into the Huskies’ goal to attempt to spark the team. The ploy worked.
Winger Malcolm Gould got loose in the slot after taking a pass from winger Patrick Anderson. Gould’s shot was stopped by Burke, but the rebound bounced to co-captain Blake Pietila. Pietila wasted no time burying the puck in the net at 11:30.
Pietila cut the Falcons’ lead to one at 17:32 when he took a pass from Gould in the left corner. Backing into the left circle, Pietila ripped a shot through Burke for his second of the night.
“We are digging ourselves holes,” said Pietila. “Last night it was 2-0 and we were lucky to get out of that. [We] went down 3-0 and we gave ourselves a chance in the third, but that was about it.”
The Huskies came out hard in the third looking for the equalizer and thought they had it when L’Esperance got open for a pass from center Dylan Steman. His one-timer from the left side of the net was stopped by Burke.
The Huskies had another great chance just over four minutes into the period when assistant captain Cliff Watson slipped down the left boards and fired a shot on goal. Kero tipped the shot, but Burke was there to make the stop.
The Huskies were awarded a five-minute major power play with 3:15 remaining in regulation, but could not get a good scoring chance, even after pulling Wintjes with just over a minute remaining.
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