Midnight Strikes: Proud Falcons See Season End in Double Overtime
by Matt Slovin/CHN Reporter
DETROIT Midway through the first period, Bowling Green found itself playing with a teammate it hadn’t seen in ages — the early lead.
In both of its prior playoff series this season, Bowling Green had struggled to find the back of the net first. Tonight, however, was different. Unlike against Northern Michigan and Ferris State in weeks past, the Falcons had to play with the lead, and the end result wasn’t the same.
Bowling Green may have struck first in Friday’s nightcap CCHA semifinal, but it fell to heavily-favored Michigan, 3-2, in overtime. Sophomore forward Luke Moffatt found the puck in the Bowling Green crease among heavy traffic and poked it in, sending the Wolverines to Saturday’s title game. Michigan finally ended the Falcons’ Cinderella-like ride past some of the conference’s contenders.
“They were a really confident team,” Michigan forward David Wohlberg said. “That’s a testament to their coaching.”
With the loss, Bowling Green was eliminated from contention for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. The only way that the Falcons could have advanced was to win the conference playoff.
After the game, disappointment covered the team’s faces.
“I’m extremely proud of our players,” Bowling Green coach Chris Bergeron said fighting back tears. “This resiliency isn’t something that started this half of the year. We’re going to be back here in this situation, and when we’re back, we’ll be more ready for it.”
Bowling Green dominated possession for most of the game. At the 9:53 mark of the first period, freshman Ryan Carpenter demonstrated some crafty stick work. With the puck floating around the Michigan crease, Carpenter somehow find room past Wolverine netminder Shawn Hunwick, poking it through a corner.
Marc Rodriguez extended the Falcon lead to 2-0, when he took a no-look pass from the slot from Andrew Wallace to snipe past Hunwick top shelf.
The Wolverines were down, but hardly out. It took an extremely fluky goal for Michigan to climb back in, however. Sophomore defenseman Jon Merrill, standing at the point, tossed in a lazy shot that skipped off the ice and by a bewildered Andrew Hammond. Hammond had been ending plenty of Wolverine rushes early the entire night, but he appeared to be screened as Michigan caught a lucky break on St. Patrick’s Day eve.
Entering the second intermission, Bowling Green clung to a 2-1 lead. It would stay that way for most of the third period, until the Wolverines broke through yet again. This time, junior forward Derek DeBlois fed a beauty of a pass from behind the net to senior forward David Wohlberg, who capitalized on a rare mistake from Hammond. Instead of another turn away from the Falcon goaltender, Wohlberg tied the game at two with just 2:34 to play in regulation.
With three periods in the books, the score remained tied, and two overtime periods were needed to determine Western Michigan’s date for Saturday’s championship game.
Just over a minute into the fifth period, Moffatt found junior forward A.J. Treais’ rebound, and put the game away.
Bowling Green will meet Miami in Saturday afternoon’s consolation game, while the Wolverines will face off against Western Michigan for the Mason Cup Saturday evening.