Bemidji State Edges Past Bowling Green, 3-1, in WCHA Quarterfinal Game
Senior forward Cory Ward scores power-play goal for Beavers

Senior forward Cory Ward scored a power-play goal for the Beavers
Prd Time  Team Score Type Scored By Assists
1st 6:51  BMJ1-0 EV John Parker (11) -
2nd 0:47  BMJ2-0 PP GW Cory Ward (9)Gerry Fitzgerald/11
2nd 11:53  BMJ3-0 SH Kyle Bauman (6)Charlie O'Connor/6, Graeme McCormack/15
2nd 14:30  BGS1-3 PP Stephen Baylis (9)Sean Walker/18, Kevin Dufour/7
Scoring 1st 2nd 3rd Final
Bemidji State  1203
Bowling Green  0101
Shots on Goal 1st 2nd 3rd SOG
Bemidji State  810624
Bowling Green  126725
Team Stats and Records  PP PIM SHGF
Bemidji State (17-14-6)  1/2 6/12 1
Bowling Green (20-13-6)  1/5 3/6 0
Bemidji State Goaltending MIN GA 1 2 3 Saves
Michael Bitzer (W, 13-14-5)60:001 125724
Bowling Green Goaltending MIN GA 1 2 3 Saves
Chris Nell (L, 16-10-6)57:223 78621
Empty Net2:380     

BOWLING GREEN, Oh. - The Bowling Green Falcons' 2015-16 season will come down to at least one do-or-die game. Friday night, the Falcons dropped a 3-1 decision in the first game of their WCHA Tournament first round series against Bemidji State at the BGSU Ice Arena.

BGSU will now be required to win Saturday night's contest, as well as the decisive third game on Sunday, in order to advance to the WCHA Final Five for the third consecutive year.

"We weren't consistently out-competed all year long like we were tonight," BGSU Head Coach Chris Bergeron said. "Our process has to be way better and our level of intensity has to be way better. That's what our program is based on. At the very least, we want to fight, scratch and claw for every inch out there."

The first ten minutes of the game belonged to the Beavers. They outshot Bowling Green 8-2 during that span and scored the game's opening goal with 6:51 elapsed from the clock.

A Falcons' turnover at their own blue line led to a breakaway by John Parker on the play. Parker won the race to the net and lifted a shot over Nell. The unassisted goal was Parker's 11th of the season and handed BSU a 1-0 lead.

In the latter half of the first period, the Falcons' offense took over. They earned two power play opportunities within 40 seconds of each other and took the final ten shots of the frame. However, they could not beat Beavers' goaltender Michael Bitzer, and the score remained 1-0 after the first.

Thirty-six seconds into the second period, BGSU took a hooking penalty when Mark Friedman was called for taking down an opponent during a scramble for the puck. BSU immediately made the Falcons pay.

Mitch McLain won the faceoff and cleared the puck. However, the Falcons turned it over, and Cory Ward received a feed from Graeme McCormack, which he fed past Nell from the left side of the net. Bemidji held a 2-0 lead after an 11-second power play with only 0:47 gone in the second.

BGSU received their third extra-man opportunity with 9:21 to go in the period when Leo Fitzgerald was called for hooking. Late in the power play, another turnover led to a short-handed goal for the Beavers. Kyle Bauman recovered the puck after Pierre-Luc Mercier tripped at center ice, and he skated down the side to the right circle. He lit the lamp from there to give BSU a 3-0 lead.

The Falcons finally got on the board three minutes later. Dillon Eichstadt was sent to the box for tripping at the 13:29 mark of the second, and BGSU scored halfway through their fourth power play.

Sean Walker took a shot from the center point following a pass from Kevin Dufour, and Stephen Baylis was there for the tip-in at the 14:30 mark. (CLICK HERE for the goal call)

The remainder of the game for BGSU was a frustrating attempt to generate more offense. The Falcons could only manage six shots on goal in the second period, with only one of those occurring after their power play goal.

In the third, Bowling Green held Bemidji State without a shot over the final 16 minutes and had a fifth chance at the power play. Despite that, Bowling Green took only seven shots of their own at Bitzer in the third and only one during the final 8:54 of the game.

Baylis' goal was his ninth of the season, and it gave him a six-game point streak. He has 11 points during that span to increase his season total to 19. Three of his four goals during the last three games have been on the power play.

Baylis took three shots on the night, second only to Walker's five. The Falcons had a 25-24 edge in shots on goal and were 37-36 on face-offs during the game. Walker also led the team with three blocks.

Falcons' goaltender Chris Nell saved 21 of 24 shots during his first career post-season action.

The Falcons are now 20-13-6 and will face Bemidji State again on Saturday night at 7:07 pm in the second game of the best-of-three series. If the Falcons win, they will force a third game, which would be played on Sunday night at 7:07 pm.

BGSU has faced this situation in the past. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, the Falcons lost game one of their conference tournament first round series, only to rebound and win games two and three.