Sophomore forward Mark Cooper scores at 4:28 of overtime for Falcons

Sophomore forward Mark Cooper scored a hat trick for the Falcons

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio. - The Bowling Green State University ice hockey team defeated Minnesota State University on Friday night (Nov. 22), 4-3, in a thrilling overtime Western Collegiate Hockey Association showdown. Playing in front of 2,372 Falcon faithful at the BGSU Ice Arena, the Orange and Brown saw two different skaters score goals, while sophomore goaltender Tommy Burke stopped 21-of-24 shots.

Sophomore forward Mark Cooper scored three goals on the night to lead Bowling Green, marking his first hat trick in his collegiate career, and the first Falcon to record a hat trick since Dan DeSalvo's three goals in a 4-3 CCHA playoff overtime victory at Ferris State on March 11, 2012. Junior forward Adam Berkle also contributed on the night, recording a goal and two assists.

The Falcons went 1-for-4 on the power play, while going 3-for-4 on the penalty kill throughout the night.

Bowling Green outshot the Mavericks 7-6 in the opening period, however, Minnesota State made the most of their opportunities and lit-the-lamp first with a goal at the 9:27 mark. Defenseman Sean Flanagan received a pass across the slot and sent a wrist shot past Falcons' goaltender Burke, handing the Mavericks an early 1-0 lead.

A little over three minutes after the goal, the Mavericks doubled their lead with 6:05 left in the first period. JP Lafontaine sent a one-timer into the back of the net for his second goal of the season, giving Minnesota State an early 2-0 advantage over the Orange and Brown.

Unable to hold two-goal advantages in back-to-back games at Ferris State last weekend, ironically, the Falcons this time had to climb out of a 2-0 hole entering the second period.

After a scoreless first period, the Orange and Brown took all of 16 seconds into the middle frame to light the lamp for the first time in the game. On the power play, sophomore defenseman Ralfs Freibergs received a pass from Bryce Williamson at the point and fired a shot towards Mavericks' netminder Cole Huggins. The puck hit his chest and went straight up in the air, and Cooper deflected the puck past Huggins for his first tally of the game.

The power-play goal broke a 0-for-23 scoreless drought over the past five games with the on-ice advantage for the Falcons.

Bowling Green continued to put pressure on the Mavericks in the second period, and was able to tie up the game with another Cooper goal at the 13:13 mark. Freshman Matt Pohlkamp fired a pass across the slot from the left circle and slid past several Minnesota State defenders. Cooper was on the receiving end, sending a one-timer past Huggins to knot the game at 2-2.

The Mavericks seemed like they had the upper hand with a power-play chance five minutes into the third period. However, Berkle blocked a shot attempt at the point and quickly gathered the puck at the blue line. Berkle raced towards Minnesota State's zone and avoided several checks from Mavericks' defenders. On the breakaway, Berkle sent a slap shot past Huggins near the left post for a shorthanded goal, giving the Falcons' a 3-2 lead.

The shorthanded goal was Berkle's second of the season, and marked Bowling Green's third shorthanded goal in their last five games.

After allowing Minnesota State to tie the game with 8:23 left in the game, the two teams once again headed to overtime for the second time in three games this month.

It was no surprise the night belonged to Cooper, and he proved it with the game-winning goal with 31 seconds left in the game. The forward from Toronto, Ontario received the puck in the corner from the point, and sent a wrist shot towards Huggins. The puck took an odd bounce off Huggins left shoulder and trickled into the back of the net, giving Cooper his third goal of the evening.

The win improved Bowling Green's record to 6-4-3overall, and 4-2-1 in league play. Minnesota State, who was picked to win the conference in the preseason coaches' poll, dropped to 4-7 overall, and 2-3 in the WCHA.

With the victory, the Falcons remained unbeaten at home, and now own a 5-0-1 record on their home ice. It marks the first time since 1995-96 the Orange and Brown went unbeaten at home in their first six games of the season. Bowling Green also earned their first victory in overtime on the year, and now sits at 1-1-2 in overtime games.

The Falcons will be right back in action Saturday night (Nov. 23), facing off against the very same Minnesota State Mavericks in the second game of their two-game home series. The puck is set to drop at 7:07 p.m. (EST) at the BGSU Ice Arena.