Bowling Green rebounded from an early two-goal deficit to take a 3-2 lead, but couldn’t hold off Western Michigan as the two teams played to a 3-3 tie.
BGSU senior right wing Tyler Knight tallied two goals, including what seemed to be the game winner, to put the Falcons up 3-2, but WMU junior captain Dana Lattery scored at 7:33 of the third period to send the game into overtime.
The Broncos (13-16-2 overall, 11-10-1 CCHA) ended their four-game losing skid by earning their first point of the month.
Goaltending dominated Friday’s wide-open contest. After allowing two goals in the first period, BGSU senior netminder Tyler Masters rebounded to record 31 saves on the evening to bring his record to 2-10-1 on the season. WMU freshman goaltender Scott Foster was solid as well, stopping 27 shots.
BGSU head coach Scott Paluch gave credit to his senior backstop for the draw.
“Certainly, neither one of those two goals he could do much on, but he made some terrific saves in some key situations in regulation and in overtime. He made a great effort and did what he needed to do to help us in the game.”
Friday’s tie marks the fourth straight time a BGSU-WMU game has been decided by a single goal or less, while three of the last four games between the two schools have been decided in overtime.
“Obviously, it’s real good to come in here and get a point against a real good team, and doing it while down 2-0 really speaks volumes,” said Paluch. “But I feel it was a very well-played game by both teams. We were still going pretty hard despite making mistakes that Western was able to get a lot of chances on, but all in all, both teams competed real hard for 65 minutes. It was a fun college hockey game.”
Bronco senior forward Ben Gagnon put WMU up 1-0 with a nifty move at 3:53 of the first period. Gagnon jumped on his own rebound and deked Masters out of position before wrapping around the net and scoring his third goal of the season with a forehand.
Near the end of a penalty-free frame for the Broncos, WMU senior forward Shawn Rose received credit for his third goal of the season at 14:28 of the first. With Masters out of his crease, Rose recorded his second goal in as many games by taking a shot from the slot that Falcon junior forward Roger Leonard tried to cover in the crease, but referee Brian Aaron ruled the puck had crossed the goal line. Rose’s goal gave the Broncos a two-goal lead.
“I thought it was a well-played game,” said WMU head coach Jim Culhane. “I was pleased with the way we came out and got the two-goal lead, but then they were able to capitalize on a couple chances with the power play.
“We’ve been talking, here, down the stretch, (that) this the environment you are going to play in. (With) The emotion in the building and the intensity on the bench and in the locker room, it’s getting down to crunch time, as we all know.”
But BGSU (7-19-3, 4-16-3 CCHA) responded by dominating play immediately following the first intermission. The Falcons outshot WMU 9-0 in the first 5:45 of the second period and made those chances count with a pair of power-play goals in a 1:14 span to tie the score. BGSU junior defenseman Kevin Bieksa deflected a shot from the point off a WMU skater past Foster at 4:41 while on the power play to make it a 2-1 contest.
The Falcons took advantage of another WMU penalty when Knight scored his first of the night at 5:45 of the second period. While on the power play from the near side of the crease, Knight put a puck on net that happened to find its way between the post and Foster’s leg to tie the game at 2-2. That also made for Knight’s fifth multiple-goal game of the season.
After going scoreless for the next 20 minutes, BGSU took the lead at 5:50 of the third period. Knight tapped in a pass across the slot from Falcon captain D’Arcy McConvey while on a two-on-one rush to give BGSU a 3-2 lead. McConvey finished with two assists on the evening and has 18 points (3-15–18) in his last 18 games.
Lattery recorded his team-leading 17th goal of the season at 7:33 of the third period with the man advantage — and extended his point streak to six games — by scoring on a one-timer off a pass across the slot from freshman forward Vince Bellissimo to send the game into overtime.
The Bronco size advantage down low seemed to have BGSU on its heels late, but WMU couldn’t convert in the extra frame.
“I think our effort was solid,” said Culhane. “I think, at times, there were momentum swings in the game where they seemed to dominate, then we seemed to dominate, but I felt that our play was real good from the top of the circle, and down in their zone. I felt, at times, we really dominated down low.
“This will be a big point for us, too. I’m pleased with our effort, but it’s going to be a tough battle tomorrow night.”
“We competed real hard down low,” said Paluch, “and for the most part, worked pretty effectively against some of their power forwards down there. They were still able to walk out of the corners and get some scoring chances, but across the board, we competed real hard defensively.”
Both teams meet again Saturday in Bowling Green, Ohio, to finish the two-game series.