Roundup: 3 Game 3s in WCHA/Atlantic
Bowling Green Among Those Advancing After Comeback Win
CHN Staff Report
It's been a streaky season for Bowling Green, but it's streaking in the right direction at the right time.
The Falcons stormed back in the last three minutes Saturday to overtake Ferris State and complete a weekend sweep of the teams' WCHA Quarterfinal series. Bowling Green advances to face either top-seeded Bemidji State or Minnesota State in a best-of-3 road semifinal next weekend.
It's the seventh straight year that Bowling Green has won a playoff series, going back to its years in the CCHA.
"We've proven we're a tough out in the playoffs. That's what our program wants to be known for," BG coach Chris Bergeron said.
Bowling Green started the season winless in seven games, but followed that by going 7-1-1. It lost three straight late in the season including getting shut out twice by Northern Michigan, and have now won five in row, including two over a tough and tested Ferris State team that finished even with the Falcons in the final standings.
After a 6-1 rout Friday, it was a tougher test Saturday. Bowling Green took a 2-0 lead, only to see the Bulldogs score three straight, the latter two coming 64 seconds apart to make it 3-2 with 7:36 remaining.
The last goal was upheld after a lengthy review, and that gave Bowling Green a chance to catch its breath.
"That stopped their momentum, then we got a call in our direction and took advantage of it," Bergeron said.
Soon thereafter, Ferris State's Gerald Mayhew was called for a hit from behind and a game misconduct. That led to a five-minute major power play.
Almost four full minutes of that were unproductive, however.
"I still thought there was poise. Arguably too much poise," Bergeron said. "Where's the urgency, where's the desperation? Why aren't we putting pucks to the net? ... (Pierre-Luc Mercier) was the one who got one through, and chaos ensues, and you make a play."
Thirty-six seconds later, Alec Rauhauser scored another power-play goal to give BG the lead back.
"We knew what to expect. It was a team (Ferris State) that's real proud and down to their last period, down a goal," Bergeron said. "And I thought we took a couple of suspect penalties. You're handing someone more than capable of converting opportunities in a game we had in control, and all of a sudden you lose momentum.
"You rely on your older guys to keep playing, and whatever's supposed to happen is going to happen. So it was nice to see guys make plays down the stretch."
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Minnesota State defeated Alaska, 4-1, to advance to the semifinals of the WCHA playoffs. It will host a play a best-of-3 series either at Michigan Tech, or home against Bowling Green.
Max Coatta scored Minnesota State’s last two goals to put the game away, including a floating tip-in off of a faceoff play and then an empty netter.
For Alaska, it was the end of a season that was better than many expected — it was predicted to place 10th in some polls, and instead finished sixth — amid the turmoil of questions about the program's future hanging over its heads.
“I thought our team battled from start to finish," Alaska coach Dallas Ferguson said. “Mankato played well, they’re a good hockey team and they stuck with it.
“I think it got open in the first period with the up-and-down play, but we mostly wanted to focus on being better with the puck. I think we were a little bit more composed with it and made some good plays but we gave up a couple of turnovers. We asked the team to play harder and to be better with the puck and I thought we did that, we just weren’t able to finish.”
According to the most recent information, Alaska's hockey program should be safe going forward, though details still need to be worked out. There was a point last fall where it looked like severe budget costs would throw the program into question.
“Almost daily you’re planning for something progressive and then all of a sudden your season ends and you never plan for that,” Ferguson said. “It’s hard. It’ll take some time to sink in that our season is over but I’m really proud of how our team played and competed. We were developing our game and identity throughout the season and I thought we had great leadership from our captains and our seniors and I also think we had great development with the rest of our team, as far as how we want to play moving forward.”
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Northern Michigan forced a Game 3 with top-seeded Bemidji State thanks for a 4-2 win Saturday.
Atte Tolvanen made 46 saves, and Gerard Hanson and Dominik Shine both had four-point nights, to lift the Wildcats past the WCHA regular-season champion Beavers.
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Michigan Tech outscored Lake Superior State 14-4 on the weekend, including 8-0 Saturday as seven different players scored, giving the Huskies a sweep of the WCHA Quarterfinal series.
"I liked the eight goals we scored, but more importantly, I liked our zero against," Tech coach Mel Pearson said. "(Goalie) Angus (Redmond) is our guy. He's been the guy that has gotten us to this point. It was a good game for him, and he had to get through long stretches without much action. He did his part."
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Max French had a hat trick for Bentley, including two in the third period, to defeat Sacred Heart, 5-2, on Saturday. The win forces a Game 3 on Sunday in the Atlantic Hockey First Round series.
Bentley led 2-1 after two periods, but a Sacred Heart goal by left wing Jeff Carroll just 1:12 into the 3rd period knotted the game. However, the Falcons scored three unanswered to secure the win It will be the second straight year Bentley and Sacred Heart will play a deciding third game in the first round of the postseason.
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Mercyhurst goaltender Brandon Wildung had a 24-save shutout as the Lakers finished a sweep of American International with a 5-0 win Saturday.
Derek Barach had a goal and two assists while Stephen Hrehoriak, Jonathan Charbonneau, Jack Riley and Joseph Duszak scored the other goals for Mercyhurst (14-18-4).
Mercyhurst will play a best-of-3 quarterfinal series at Army or Air Force next weekend.
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RIT bounced back from a stunning defeat Friday to rout Niagara, 5-0, and force a Game 3 on Sunday.
Niagara, which had only three wins during the regular season, scored three goals in the final three minutes of Friday's game, two of which were shorthanded, to pull out a 5-4 win. There were no such miracles Saturday.
If RIT wins the series, it will be at Army next weekend. If Niagara wins, it will be at top-seeded, and Buffalo intra-city rival, Canisius.