The Bowling Green State University hockey team returned from its holiday break and were promptly handed a lump of coal by the Western Michigan Broncos on Thursday night (Dec. 28) at the Slater Family Ice Arena. The Broncos lit the lamp four times in the game's opening 14:08 and ultimately defeated the Falcons, 5-2. With the loss, BGSU drops to 8-6-6 overall and 1-4-1 in non-conference play. WMU, who was ranked 12th in the most recent USCHO.com Top 20 poll, is 11-8-1 overall and 5-4-1 in non-conference games. The Falcons conclude their non-conference schedule at the Great Lakes Invitational, which begins on New Year's Day.
Bowling Green quickly found itself in a 5-on-3 disadvantage only 100 seconds into the game. The Broncos immediately took advantage with a Hugh McGing goal at the 1:48 mark. WMU added three more scores over the next 13 minutes against starting goaltender Ryan Bednard and ended the first period with a 4-0 lead. Eric Dop came into the game following the fourth goal and allowed only one score in 45:52 of net time, during which the Falcons outscored WMU 2-1. BGSU's two goals were of the power-play variety. Alec Rauhauserscored the first, 1:09 into the second period, while Mitch McLain added the second with 35 seconds left in the game. WMU added their final goal 3:24 into the final period.
• BGSU scored their first goal early in the second period. WMU's Austin Rueschhoff was whistled for high-sticking just 44 seconds into the period, giving the Falcons a power play chance. Alec Rauhauser made the opportunity pay off 25 seconds later. Brandon Kruse took a loose puck and fed a pass to Rauhauser, who was coming in from the point. Rauhauser's shot beat Broncos' goaltender Ben Blacker to the side for his sixth goal of the season.
• The Falcons scored their second goal in the game's final minute. Scott Moldenhauer was sent to the box for interference with 57 seconds left to give BGSU its final power play. With 35 seconds remaining, Brandon Kruse sent the puck across the front of the crease. Mitch McLain swooped in at the near post to tap home the puck past Blacker for his eighth goal of the season. Stephen Baylis also provided an assist.
• Alec Rauhauser scored his sixth goal of the season and now has the team's second-best total. He continues to lead BGSU with 17 points.
• Mitch McLain moved into sole possession of the team lead with eight goal. He's scored in three of the Falcons' last five games.
• Freshman Brandon Kruse continued his hot hand with two assists. It is his first career multi-assist and multi-point game.
• Kruse is the third Falcon this year to reach 10 assists. He has at least one point in seven of the team's last eight games.
• Stephen Baylis registered his ninth assist of the season on the McLain goal. He has points in three straight and five of the last six.
• Eric Dop saved 14 of 15 shots in 45:52 of relief time, including nine of ten shots in the third period.
• Baylis led the Falcons with five shots on goal, while a total of 13 players took at least one.
• Bowling Green took 21 total shots, while WMU took 24.
• BGSU was 2-for-9 on the power play and 3-for-6 on the penalty kill.
• The Falcons were 37-24 on faceoffs. McLain led the way with 13 wins in 19 attempts, while Connor Fordadded 10 faceoff wins.
• Bowling Green returns to the ice on Monday, Jan. 1 and Tuesday, Jan. 2 when it travels to Detroit, Mich. for the 2018 Great Lakes Invitational. The Falcons will play at the brand new Little Caesars Arena against the University of Michigan on Monday and either Michigan Tech or Michigan State on Tuesday. The game against the Wolverines will be one week shy of five years since the Falcons' last game against Michigan; BGSU won 5-1 in Ann Arbor, Mich. on Jan. 8, 2013. Bowling Green has already faced Michigan Tech (1-0-1) and Michigan State (1-1-0) this season.
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