The Bowling Green State University hockey team extended its winning streak to five and the Falcons completed a sweep of Michigan Tech with a 5-2 win over the Huskies Saturday night at the BGSU Ice Arena in the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Playoffs. Ryan Carpenter, Adam Berkle Marcus Perrier and Matt Pohlkamp netted goals for the Falcons, while sophomore goaltender Tommy Burke (14-6-6) turned away 28-of-30 shots in the winning effort.
Led by a career-high four points (one goal, three assists) from Carpenter and a career-high two goals from Berkle, the Falcons jumped out to a 3-0 lead and then held off a late charge by Michigan Tech. Berkle then sealed the win with his second goal of the night, an empty-netter as he dove to fling the puck towards the unoccupied goal with just 94 seconds remaining to put any remaining doubts away as the Orange and Brown advanced to the 2014 WCHA Final Five.
With the win, Bowling Green improves to 18-14-6 and wins a league playoff series for the fourth consecutive year. The Falcons have won five playoff series' in that span, picking up first round victories in the CCHA Playoffs in each of the past three years. BGSU also won a CCHA quarterfinal series in 2011-12 over second-ranked Ferris State. This is the first time the Falcons have swept a series during the stretch as BGSU posted game-three wins in each of the other victories.
Bowling Green came out on fire in the second game of the best-of-three series, scoring the first goal at the 14:35 mark in the opening period at even strength. After creating a turnover in the neutral zone, Pohlkamp received a pass from Carpenter and sent a wrist shot past Michigan Tech's Pheonix Copley just inside the left post to grab an early 1-0 lead.
The offensive attack continued with another Orange and Brown marker at the 19:01 mark in the opening act, coming off the stick of Berkle while holding a 5-on-3 man advantage. The Orange and Brown worked the puck quickly around the Huskie zone before junior Dan DeSalvo fired a shot towards Copley. Copley made the initial save, but the rebound found the stick of Carpenter. The co-captain quickly sent a backhand no-look pass across the crease as Berkle netted his first goal of the evening.
The Orange and Brown then added to their 2-0 lead with a third goal at the 13:30 mark in the middle frame, coming at even strength off the stick of Perrier. After Bowling Green wrapped the puck around the boards to gain possession on the near side of the Falcon zone, the Orange and Brown found Perrier at the point. The junior fired a slap shot towards a screen in front and found the back of the net for his second goal of the season.
Trailing 3-0, Michigan Tech responded with a goal just :29 into the final frame with a power-play goal. Reid Sturos fired a slap shot towards a screen in front of the crease that beat Burke for the Huskies' first goal of the game.
Burke, who entered the night with an impressive 8-2-2 record at the BGSU Ice Arena, shutout MTU for the first two periods, and turned away 16 consecutive shots before allowing the Huskie goal just second into the third period.
However, Bowling Green answered with a goal at the 2:11 mark in the final frame to push their lead to 4-1. The Orange and Brown worked the puck into the Huskie zone and sophomore Ben Murphy fired a shot towards Copley. The deflected off Copley as Carpenter came in and sent the rebound to the back of the twine for his eighth goal of the season.
The Huskies scored once more at the 8:42 mark in the third, coming off the stick of Malcolm Gould at even strength to pull within 4-2. However, the Falcons held off a furious attack in the final minutes, including an extra attacker and netted an empty-netter to put the game out of reach.
The Falcons went 1-for-5 on the power play throughout the night. The power-play goal at the 19:01 mark in the first period gave the Orange and Brown their seventh-straight game in which they have scored with the man advantage. Michigan Tech also went 1-for-5 on the power play in the tilt.
Michigan Tech ends its season at 14-19-7 on the year.
Bowling Green will advance to the WCHA Final Five at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. March 21-22. The WCHA will re-seed the remaining teams and matchups will be determined as league scores come in.