|2nd||7:17||NMU||1-0||EV||Shane Sooth (6)||Dominik Shine/13, Reed Seckel/9|
|3rd||10:48||BGS||1-1||EV||Mitchell McLain (9)||Matt Pohlkamp/17, Connor Kucera/7|
|3rd||16:29||NMU||2-1||EV||Luke Eibler (2)||Shane Sooth/15|
|3rd||18:36||BGS||2-2||EV||Mark Cooper (6)||Nolan Valleau/16|
|OT||19:32.9||BGS||3-2||EV GW||Tyler Spezia (5)||Dan DeSalvo/16, Adam Berkle/13|
|Shots on Goal||1st||2nd||3rd||OT||SOG|
|Team Stats and Records||PP||PIM||SHGF|
|Northern Michigan (14-17-6)||0/3||6/20||0|
|Bowling Green (22-10-5)||0/5||4/19||0|
|Northern Michigan Goaltending||MIN||GA||1||2||3||OT||Saves|
|Michael Doan (L, 4-10-2)||79:32||3||7||18||13||11||49|
|Bowling Green Goaltending||MIN||GA||1||2||3||OT||Saves|
|Tommy Burke (W, 13-5-3)||79:32||2||9||11||11||7||38|
Bowling Green, Ohio - Bowling Green freshman Tyler Spezia picked up a loose puck and lifted a shot over Northern Michigan goalie Michael Doan to give the BGSU hockey team a 3-2 overtime win to take a 1-0 lead in a best-of-three series in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Tournament first round Friday night. For Spezia, it was his first career playoff point and gave the Falcons a critical victory in an attempt to bolster the team's NCAA Tournament at-large hopes.
"I happened to get the puck on my backhand," Spezia said. "I took a step out and put it under the bar. I blacked out to be honest."
Bowling Green outshot Northern Michigan 52-40 in the contest, including 12-7 in an overtime session that went 19:32 before the game-winner. Spezia's goal came on assists from seniors Dan DeSalvo and Adam Berkle, who both peppered Doan with shots prior to the puck finding the back of the net. For DeSalvo, it was his 21st career playoff point in just 17 games and for Berkle, it was his 13th point in the same number of playoff outings.
The Falcons made a statement early in the contest as the team had to kill off six consecutive power play minutes, including a full 60 seconds of 5-on-3. Connor Kucera took a two-minute penalty for tripping and the Falcons earned a five-minute major exactly one minute later. But BGSU leaned on the top-ranked penalty killing unit in the country to hold Northern Michigan off the scoreboard. Although the Wildcats earned the first six shots of the game, Bowling Green weathered the storm and began to turn the momentum.
By the end of the first period, Northern Michigan held a 9-7 shots advantage but the Falcons took over after that, recording 18 shots in the second and 15 more in the third. However, it was the Wildcats that took a lead into the third period as Shane Sooth scored at the 7:17 mark of the second for a 1-0 advantage.
Bowling Green pressured Doan in the early stages of the third and finally broke through on freshman Mitch McLain's first career playoff goal at the 10:48 mark of the third. Sophomore Matt Pohlkamp and senior Connor Kucera earned assists on the tally.
The Falcons continued to dominate the period and had chances to take the lead but it was Northern Michigan that appeared to score the game-winner with less than four minutes to play. Off the faceoff, Sooth got the puck to Luke Eibler, who rifled home a shot for the lead again.
With pressure now on Bowling Green to find the tying goal late, the Falcons got the answer they needed with 1:24 to play in regulation. Junior Mark Cooper stole a clear attempt and played a centering pass off the skate of Northern Michigan's Brock Maschmeyer. It ricocheted past Doan to tie the game.
From there, the two teams headed to overtime. Northern Michigan had the better of the play early on and Jake Baker had the best chance when Tommy Burke caught just a piece of his slapshot to steer it off the post.
"Early in the overtime, they pushed," Burke said. "Baker took a shot from the point and I didn't really see it until it was maybe three feet in front of me. I stuck my elbow out and got a piece of it, but it still hit the pipe. It would've gone in."
After the initial push by the Wildcats, Bowling Green took control until Spezia finally ended the game.
Burke finished the game with 38 saves for BGSU and Doan had 49 for Northern Michigan. Both teams were scoreless on the power play with the Falcons have five chances and the Wildcats getting three. Freshman Brandon Hawkins led BGSU with 10 shots and both McLain and freshman Mark Friedman blocked three shots. Spezia finished with a +2 on-ice rating.
"Neither of these teams are promised Monday," Spezia said. "It's this weekend or nothing. We still have to come tomorrow and do the same thing over again. But for my first playoff game, it was real exciting."
Ranked No. 13 in the country and No. 11 in the Pairwise rankings, which mimics the system used to select the 16 NCAA Tournament teams, Bowling Green improves to 22-10-5 on the season. Northern Michigan falls to 14-17-6. The two teams will square off for game two of the playoff series Saturday at 7:07 pm in the BGSU Ice Arena. If a game three is needed, it will take place Sunday at 7:07 pm in the BGSU Ice Arena.