BOWLING GREEN — The post-game comments of the Bowling Green hockey team following its 5-2 loss to Northern Michigan were as ugly as the game that preceded them.
“We laid an egg at home,” said Falcons coach Chris Bergeron after his team saw a six-game home winning streak snapped.
“I think we got what we deserved, with some of the bounces going their way,” sophomore captain Ryan Carpenter said. “They came to work, and they capitalized on their chances.”
Bowling Green put together a listless performance in a game with huge Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoff implications.
Instead the Falcons (12-16-5 overall) fell to 9-13-3-1 in CCHA action. Worse, the win lifted NMU (14-15-4, 8-13-4-1) to two points behind BG in the race for eighth in the league — and the final home playoff spot that goes with it.
“We played like we had nothing on the line, and they played like they were fighting for something,” Bergeron said. “I don’t know how that happens …
“I want to come unglued. I want to lose my mind. But that doesn’t seem to work. So we’ll go back to work, and we have to trust that our guys will respond.”
The Wildcats jumped on top with first-period goals by Stephan Vigier and Mitch Jones. Jones scored a power-play goal with 24 seconds left in the period.
“We were excited to play, but we didn’t show it in our start,” Carpenter said.
NMU made it 3-0 at 6:07 of the second period when a shot bounced off the back wall to Ryan Daugherty, who poked it past BG goalie Tommy Burke for the Wildcats’ second power-play goal.
“Our special teams have been our Achilles heel,” Bergeron said. “They have been costing us games, and they have been costing us momentum within games.”
BG fell behind 4-0 — and the crowd of 2,285 at the arena fell silent — when Vigier scored his second of the night on a wrister from the left circle.
“He made some really good saves, and he let it some goals that just can’t go in at this level,” Bergeron said of Burke, who finished with 16 saves.
The Falcons did show signs of life by scoring twice in a 74-second span late in the second. Bowling Green got on the board when Connor Kucera beat NMU’s Jared Coreau with a shot from the right point at 16:41. Roughly a minute later BG went on the power play, and Carpenter scored his team-leading 14th of the season at 17:55.
Now the task for the Falcons will be to forget Friday’s painful performance for today’s 7:05 p.m. rematch with the Wildcats
“Some times the ugly ones are easier to forget,” Carpenter said.
Bergeron sounded pessimistic about having senior Andrew Hammond, who has started in goal for 22 of BG’s 33 games this season, return today. “If he comes to the rink [today] and takes live pucks at game speed, he could [play],” Bergeron said of Hammond, who has missed the last five with a knee injury. “But I don’t see that happening. He hasn’t done it to this point; he didn’t do it [Friday], and I don’t see him doing it today.”