BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green hockey team, despite controlling play for most of the first period of its game against Lake Superior State Friday night, still found itself in a 1-1 tie.
In a sign of the program’s growing maturity, the Falcons didn’t allow the wasted opportunities of the opening period spoil the whole night.
Instead BG scored once in the second period and two clinching goals in the third to claim a 4-1 victory in front of 2,932 fans at the BGSU Ice Arena.
Bowling Green snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 9-13-5 overall and 6-10-3-1 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. The Falcons moved into a tie for eighth in the CCHA standings with 22 points, enhancing their chances to clinch home ice for the first round of the league playoffs.
Lake Superior State is now 13-15-1 and 8-12-1-1 in the CCHA.
BG coach Chris Bergeron said his team was surprisingly upbeat during the first intermission.
“For a team that has struggled to win games, our mind set remains pretty good,” he said. “We stay resilient and we stay focused most nights.
“Most games we’ve been able to put a [bad] shift, period or whatever behind us and focus on the next one.”
In the first period, BG’s Brett Mohler goal was matched by a score from Lake Superior’s Domenic Monardo late in the period.
Midway through the second the Falcons’ Bobby Shea found Dajon Mingo alone in front of the Lakers’ net, and Mingo made no mistake in burying the puck past goalie Kevin Kapalka for his seventh goal of the year.
“Guys were open, and lanes were open,” Shea said of that play. “On Mingo’s goal he was wide-open and I could see him calling for the puck.
“If you don’t take advantage of those [scoring opportunities] you’re not going to win, especially in this league. The key to winning in this league is burying your opportunities, and that’s what we did.”
Bowling Green put the game on ice with a pair of goals 4:17 into the final period. Dan DeSalvo tipped Connor Kucera’s shot from the point into the Laker’s net at 2:15, and Ben Murphy spin and shot the puck over Kapalka’s right shoulder to clinch the win.
“If Lake Superior scores [to tie the game in the third period], we could be on the bench saying, ‘Here we go again,’” Shea said. “But we went out and made some plays.
"It’s a boost. You’re playing with a three-goal lead, and you’re more confident.”
That advantage was more than enough for Bowling Green goaltender Andrew Hammond, who made several nice saves in the final period and finished with 25.
“He was on top of it,” Bergeron said of Hammond. “When Andrew’s on top of his game, he’s able to steer things away. … He was solid for sure.”
The two teams meet again at the Ice Arena today at 7:05 p.m., and Bergeron said completing a weekend sweep is important for his program. BG has won the Friday contest in a weekend series four times this season — and has failed to win Saturday’s game all four times.
“The top teams are able to put [a win] behind them and focus on the next game, because that’s the next challenge,” Bergeron said. “I think the better teams are able to close out games.
“Lake Superior is going to elevate their game [today]. You don’t have the record they have if you’re not able to elevate your game. And we have to elevate ours.”
Shea agreed, adding, “If you split, you don’t pick up any points [in the standings]. “We’re all going to enjoy [the win], but we can’t let our foot off the gas. We have to keep going.”
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.