Sophomore goaltender Tommy Burke makes 18 saves for Falcons

Tommy Burke made 18 saves for the Falcons

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio. - The Bowling Green State University ice hockey team defeated the University of Alabama in Huntsville on Friday night (Dec. 6), shutting out the Chargers, 3-0, in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association showdown. Playing in front of 809 Falcon faithful at the BGSU Ice Arena, the Falcons saw three different skaters score goals, while sophomore Tommy Burke (5-1-3) turned away a perfect 18-of-18 shots to earn his first collegiate shutout victory.

The Orange and Brown got goals from sophomore forward Ben Murphy, freshman forward Pierre-Luc Mercier and junior forward Ted Pletsch. Bowling Green used two power-play goals on the evening (2-for-6) and went a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill to help snap a three-game losing skid. The Orange and Brown scored one goal in each period throughout the night, helping them improve to 4-1-3 during Friday-night play.

Bowling Green was able to break the scoreless drought at the 18:12 mark in the opening frame. In a period that saw each team have power-play opportunities, it was the Orange and Brown that lit-the-lamp for the first time with a 5-on-4 power play.

After working the puck around the Charger zone, sophomore defenseman Ralfs Freibergs received a pass from Murphy and quickly sent the puck right back to the right-hander from Duxbury, Mass. Murphy sent a one-timer past Chargers' goaltender Matt Larose, handing BGSU an early 1-0. The goal was Murphy's seventh on the season, and broke an eight-game skid without a goal.

Bowling Green continued to work hard on the offensive end in the second period, outshooting UAH 19-6. It appeared the Falcons would enter the third period with a one-goal lead, however, the Orange and Brown got their second power-play goal in the tilt with: 27 seconds remaining in the second.

Dajon Mingo, who played his first collegiate game as a defenseman, received a pass at the point and found Falcons' forward Mark Cooper near the slot on the right side. The two played a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play in UAH's zone, and eventually found the stick of Mercier near the right crease. Mercier gathered a nice touch pass from Cooper that slipped across the slot and sent the puck past Larose, giving Bowling Green a 2-0 lead entering the final frame.

The Orange and Brown took just over five minutes into the third period to hand them their largest lead of the game. Pletsch, who was competing in his first game of the season, took the puck around the Chargers net as his wrap-around attempt was initially saved by Larose. Chad Sumsion sent a rebound back towards Larose, only to have that shot saved by the freshman netminder. However, Pletsch stuck with the play and send the third attempt to the back of the net, giving the Falcons' a 3-0 lead with 14:47 remaining in the game.

UAH could not figure out Burke, who entered the game with an unbeaten record of 4-0-1 at home, as the sophomore stopped all four shots he faced over the final frame. With the shut out, Burke improved to 5-0-1 at the BGSU Ice Arena, earning his first collegiate shutout victory in 24 career games.

The win improved Bowling Green's record to 7-7-3 overall, and 5-5-1 in league play. The loss dropped UAH record to 0-15-0, and 0-9-0 in the WCHA. With the victory, the Falcons are now 6-1-1 at home, which is tied for the best home record in the WCHA along with league-leading Ferris State.

The Falcons will be right back in action Saturday night (Dec. 7), facing off against UAH in the second game of their two-game home series. The puck is set to drop at 7:07 p.m. at the BGSU Ice Arena.