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After losing Game 1, Bowling Green looked like the superior team in every facet over the next two games, especially Sunday, where it just cruised to the win. Andrew Hammond is back and healthy in net again, and he got the shutout, and the Falcons are feeling confident that this is truly a program on the rise. Why can't they go into Notre Dame and win another series and make it back to The Joe, like last year? Ryan Carpenter led the way with his 18th goal, and Dan DeSalvo scored twice. "We challenged them hard after the game. Friday, we didn't really answer the bell, they were ready to play and we weren't. Our guys played tonight like we've been in this game before, and we have been in this game before -- on the road, in the playoffs. The guys that we challenged Friday are the ones that really stood out tonight."
After giving up 4 goals in a 5-4 win Friday, Miami allowed a season-high 45 shots to the Lakers on Saturday. The difference Saturday, however, was that phenom Ryan McKay was between the pipes. This kid keeps splitting time with Jay Williams, but it's getting harder and harder to find the superlatives for McKay. Williams has been pretty good -- McKay has been from another planet. After stopping 44 of 45 shots on Saturday, McKay's save percentage is now .962 with a goals against of 1.02. Those numbers are ridiculous, and if it wasn't for the fact that he missed some time with an injury, we may be talking about him in the Hobey race by now.
In any event, Riley Barber's 14th spurred Saturday's win, and the sweep kept Miami comfortably in first place and at No. 3 in the Pairwise. We've said it before, but this may be the best coaching job Rico Blasi has done yet. But he can thank McKay too.
Following six straight wins, Alaska has now lost 5 of 6 to stop back into the middle of the pack in the CCHA.
Bowling Green sweeps the weekend, which was an important bounceback. The Falcons had been playing well, then got swept by Miami last week. No shame there, really, but instead of letting themselves go into a tailspin, the Falcons put on the brakes and got a couple of wins. It came at the expensive of the Lakers, who had their own midseason surge but have now gone back the other way, 1-6-1 in the last eight games.
Mark Cooper is emerging into a big offensive threat for Bowling Green. He had two more goals, and now has nine. "He's not surprising to us. This is just the beginning," BG coach Chris Bergeron said. ... Bergeron continued, talking about Bowling Green's season: "All the adversity we've been through has to pay off somewhere. They're a resilient group. ... This goes back to last year when anyone who saw me talk about this team, they saw me get emotional because I'm very proud. They've got me in their ear all the time, all these things, and they're not winning games, yet they hang in there and come to the rink for themselves and each other all the time. It's a very proud feeling. The Bowling Green program had to be resilient three years ago. We were tested. And hopefully it's something we'll be known for. ... Our biggest challenge now is to put this aside and get back to work with eight games still remaining."
Ohio State gets the weekend sweep, determined not to let last year's second-half swoon happen again. The Buckeyes have crept into a tie for fifth in the CCHA. Ohio State scored the first five goals of the game, all in the first period, two from Alex Szczechura, en route to the win. The Buckeyes had 41 shots on the game. “We wanted to be on our toes. That’s how we wanted to play. We wanted to be aggressive, that was our mentality," OSU coach Mark Osiecki said. "I don’t think our guys have lost any confidence but it certainly helps to win. Now we have to turn the page and get ready for the Irish.” ...“We haven’t been the highest scoring team but this weekend the goals were coming all night so that’s definitely a confidence booster for us," Szczechura said.
Lakers goalie Kevin Murdock was pulled after making just two saves on five shots, but Kevin Kapalka didn't fare much better. Lake Superior is 1-4-1 since its five-game winning streak ended. “My two (goalies) have played great all year and they had a bad night today," LSSU coach Jim Roque said. "I give credit to Ohio State. I thought they played great all weekend. They were on the toes and played with energy. They had a lot of good chances both nights. You could tell they were desperate, hopefully we’ll get desperate this week to bounce back next weekend. ... I think (our forwards and defenders) played okay. When you get down that much early in the game, your game plan changes. You have to gamble and take chances. It’s a hard game to really judge. Our guys competed hard and wanted to try and get back in the game. They didn’t quit that’s for sure.”
Domenic Monardo scored twice as Lake Superior overcame a 2-1 deficit to win and earn the split of the week. It's more than a little strange to hear Wolverines coach Red Berenson talk about how his team played very well despite losing, and had a really good weekend. But given the team's struggles, and injuries, and lack of production, and issues between the pipes, he's probably right. Adam Janecyk started both games in net, and wasn't stellar, but his team put up 6 goals Friday, and then he played better Saturday but got the loss. Michigan stands at 8-14-2 and 10th place in the CCHA.
I am loathe to say that I called it, but, alas, it's true. Union is struggling this year to maintain what it had last year. There is no shame in that really -- it happens a lot. But most people figured Union, with most key players back from a Frozen Four team, would be back near the top. That just hasn't materialized. The Dutchmen were inconsistent in the first half, and it's gotten worse recently. Sure, the team has been without star defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who just won a gold medal with Team USA at the World Juniors, but that doesn't really explain it. Coach Rick Bennett tried to shake things up in this game, the back end of a weekend pair, but it didn't work. Most particularly, Colin Stevens started in goal over Troy Grosenick.
Meanwhile, credit here to the Lakers, who have now won five in a row to move to 12-10. They got a third-period, power-play goal from Domenic Monardo, and then a shorthanded goal from Buddy Robinson to pull out the win. It was the second goal on the weekend for each. Coach Jim Roque stuck with his goalie rotation this weekend of Kevin Kapalka and Kevin Murdock, and each allowed just one goal. The Lakers are being fueled by an outstanding penalty kill, that had killed off 31 straight chances until Union's power-play goal in this game.
Friday, freshmen Riley Barber and Sean Kuraly teamed up for goals, helping Miami to a 3-2 win. Saturday, despite 46 shots, Miami couldn't get one past Kevin Murdock. Ryan McKay, who has been easing himself back into the goaltender rotation after missing a big chunk of time to injury, was the hard-luck loser. In four complete games this season, McKay hasn't allowed more than one goal in any of them, but is just 2-1-1. He started the year alternating time with fellow freshman Jay Williams, but got hurt in his third game, and just returned last week.
Friday, LSSU stunned Ferris State with three goals in the final minute of the second period en route to a 4-1 win. Saturday, C.J. Motte helped get the Bulldogs back on course, making 43 saves to hold off the Lakers.
After sticking with junior incumbent Will Yanakeff in goal through some rough early-season losses, MSU coach Tom Anastos went to Jake Hildebrand for his first start, and he come up with 28 saves in the win. "I thought he made key saves when he needed to, and they had to earn their goals," Anastos said. "I thought he was excellent, and I am happy for him getting his first win." LSSU coach Jim Roque pulled his goalie with over four minutes remaining, and it paid off with a goal, but that was all the Lakers could get.
"I thought we played the kind of game that we wanted to play all weekend. The guys played with toughness, and obviously, special teams were a big factor," Anastos said. "Guys played disciplined in their game all night long -- I don't mean just from a penalty standpoint, but also from the forecheck and through the neutral zone, which is what we didn't do (Friday). It was good for our players to see what good things can happen when we follow the game plan, keep things simple, and execute."
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