Bowling Green Powerless in Defeat
by Harrison Watt/CHN Reporter
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. A power play that had been humming, ran into a hot Minnesota State team Friday. The result was an 0-for-6 whitewash with the man advantage, amid a 4-0 shutout loss in the WCHA semifinal.
Despite the score, the Falcons played the Mavericks close until the final 10 minutes of regulation.
The Falcons dropped to 18-15-6 with the loss, which may seem like a low-water mark for a team in the semifinal of a conference championship, but the contrary is true.
The Bowling Green power play was “A mirror image of our team today, unfortunately,” head coach Chris Bergeron said.
“We’ve been a little inconsistent. I don’t think our level of execution today was even close to what we’ve been.”
Bowling Green stayed in the game even after Chase Grant scored the game winner on a shovel shot that beat Bowling Green goaltender Tommy Burke high just over three minutes into the second period.
It was a shorthanded goal minutes later by Maverick forward Bryce Gervais that buried Bowling Green.
“It was definitely hard, [in a] 1-0 game,” Bowling Green junior forward Ryan Carpenter said. “We tried staying as positive as we [could], we tried bouncing back as soon as we could, but obviously we didn’t.”
Bergeron followed Carpenter in agreement, and noted that the communication between the Falcon goaltenders playing the puck and the oncoming defensemen has hurt Bowling Green this season.
“Unfortunately that play whether its stop the puck behind the net or whatever,” Bergeron said. “The miscommunication from goaltender to [defenseman] has been a little bit of an Achilles heel.”
The 18-15-6 mark was a positive despite a semifinal exit for the Falcons. Bowling Green gained its first winning season since 1996-97.
The Falcons have been hampered by being a small school in relation to the former conference opponents in the now-defunct CCHA, where they recruited against teams like Michigan, Michigan State, Miami and Notre Dame.
In the past five seasons, Bowling Green has finished 11th three times and 12th once in regular-season play. Its highest finish was their 9th place run in 2012-13, in which they finished 13-18-5 and were swept by Notre Dame in the first round of the playoffs.
“We’ve been a resilient group,” Bergeron said. “Watching how we played after that [shorthanded goal] deflated us more.”
Bowling Green’s last winning season came under Buddy Powers, but they Falcons haven’t had a winning coach since Jerry York who led the team from 1979-1994, following legendary college hockey coach Ron Mason.
Fourth-year head coach Chris Bergeron has improved his record every season, starting with a 10-win campaign in 2010-11, and jumping to his 18-win total from this season.
The one stark contrast between the ice and the arena was the crowd, or lack thereof.
Though Van Andel listed attendance at 2,700, the seats filled were far too sporadic to have been occupied by that many people. Bowling Green did bring a small contingency of fans, but were unable to capture any sort of home-ice advantage.