BOWLING GREEN — For goaltender Tommy Burke, the start of Bowling Green’s game against Michigan State Friday could not have been worse.
A mistake on the power-play led to a breakaway by the Spartans’ Greg Wolfe — and Wolfe scored on his team’s first shot.
Burke — getting a start in place of Andrew Hammond — didn’t allow another goal, and the Falcons bounced back for a 2-1 win over MSU in a Central Collegiate Hockey Association contest played in front of 3,436 at the BGSU Ice Arena.
“I would rate him, based on the situation he was in, as very good,” Bowling Green coach Chris Bergeron said of Burke. “That’s what was cool: Seeing Tommy take advantage of an opportunity.”
Burke finished with 17 saves to backstop the Falcons to their third consecutive win and sixth straight home victory. BG now is 11-13-5 overall and 8-10-3-1 in the CCHA and moved into sole possession of seventh place with the win.
Michigan State (7-19-3, 5-15-1-0) lost its fourth straight.
Hammond injured his knee in practice on Wednesday.
“On Thursday I asked [Burke], ‘Are you ready to go?’” Bergeron said. “He said, ‘I’m ready.’ ”
It’s difficult to truly be ready when the first shot on goal comes on a breakaway.
“It was the first shot I’ve seen in a game in over a month, and that’s a tough first shot to have,” Burke said. “It just squeaked by me — I felt it go off my leg before it went in.”
The Falcons got the equalizer 53 seconds later when Ben Murphy took a pass along the boards to the right of Michigan State goalie Will Yanakeff and whipped it into the net for a power-play goal.
Burke, who had played in just eight of BG’s 28 contests before last night, seemed to get more comfortable as the game went on.
“I made a save in the second period, and I remember things clicking,” he said. “In the first period I was a little lethargic. I wasn’t nervous, but I was anxious to get in there.
“The first period wasn’t as smooth as it could be. But I had two or three saves early in the second period and I started to get in the flow then.”
Carpenter provided the game-winner at the 12:25 mark of the second period on BG’s second power-play goal of the night.
“[Dajon] Mingo made a nice pass to [Chad] Sumsion, who made a nice chip to [Mark] Cooper,” Carpenter said. “I was coming down the slot and I knew I was wide open.
“[Cooper] held [the puck] and made the [defenseman] commit to him and made a nice pass. I got a piece of it and it went in.”
That was enough on a night when the Falcons dominated at times and struggled at others.
“I don’t know if we fought it as much as we did last Saturday,” Bergeron said. “But I thought it was more hit-and-miss — I thought we mixed in a few good shifts in there.
“I think, at times when we don’t have it, we want to get more cute than less cute. We need to have less of that and more of the ‘hard’ stuff.”
Burke is expected to be in goal again today when the Falcons complete the home-and-home series at MSU’s Munn Arena, but Bergeron said he was confident Hammond will return this season.
“He was scared. He thought this might be the way he would end his career at Bowling Green,” Bergeron said of Hammond. “But the next 24 hours he got a lot better.
“I think it’s a short-term thing. He’s got hockey still to be played this season, and I think it’s going to be in the regular season.”
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.