|2nd||12:36||BGS||1-0||PP||Mark Cooper (16)||Mitchell McLain/8, Brandon Hawkins/15|
|3rd||3:20||BGS||2-0||EV GW||Mitchell McLain (7)||-|
|3rd||13:05||BMJ||1-2||EV||Markus Gerbrandt (8)||Kyle Bauman/13|
|3rd||18:05||BGS||3-1||EV EN||Matt Pohlkamp (8)||-|
|Shots on Goal||1st||2nd||3rd||SOG|
|Team Stats and Records||PP||PIM||SHGF|
|Bemidji State (17-16-6)||0/2||1/2||0|
|Bowling Green (22-13-6)||1/1||3/17||0|
|Bemidji State Goaltending||MIN||GA||1||2||3||Saves|
|Michael Bitzer (L, 13-16-5)||58:09||2||12||6||7||25|
|Bowling Green Goaltending||MIN||GA||1||2||3||Saves|
|Chris Nell (W, 18-10-6)||60:00||1||5||14||16||35|
Bowling Green, Ohio - The Bowling Green Falcons are headed back to the WCHA Final Five! BGSU clinched a spot in the WCHA's premier event with a decisive 3-1 victory over the Bemidji State Beavers in the third and final game of their WCHA Tournament first round series at the BGSU Ice Arena.
The victory clinches the Falcons' third straight trip to the Final Five in their three seasons as members of the WCHA. They have also won at least one playoff series in all six of Chris Bergeron's seasons as BGSU's head coach. Bowling Green overcame a 1-0 deficit in the best-of-three series to advance. This is the fourth time in Bergeron's six seasons that the Falcons have accomplished that feat. In fact, Bowling Green improved to 8-0 all-time in postseason game threes, including a 5-0 mark under Bergeron.
The game started fast, and the Falcons played with a lot of energy in the first period. They were able to generate several good scoring chances on offense and outshot BSU 12-5 in the period. However, neither team was able to dent the scoreboard. The first period ended 0-0 for the first time in a BGSU game since Jan. 9.
The early minutes of the second period were played without incident, but that changed with just under 13 minutes to go in the frame. The Beavers attacked on offense, and the Falcons could not clear the puck. Chris Nell denied a shot from John Parker, but Kyle Bauman appeared to slide the puck past Nell on the rebound during a scrum in front of the net at the 7:41 mark.
Officials reviewed the play, and the score was nullified due to goaltender interference after a short delay.
Bemidji State suffered the game's first penalty shortly after when Bauman was sent to the penalty box for tripping at the 10:39 mark of the second. BGSU was unable to generate any real scoring chances until the very end of the two-minute advantage.
Brandon Hawkins' shot from the point reached traffic in front of Bemidji State goaltender Michael Bitzer. Mitch McLain had a chance to give the Falcons the lead but the puck slid across the crease to Mark Cooper. Cooper dug away at the puck multiple times, finally jarring it loose from the traffic and across the goal line with just three seconds remaining on the power play. Officials also reviewed this score, but this time, the goal was upheld after a lengthy review.
BGSU took the 1-0 lead with 7:24 to play in the second. They managed to hold the lead through the end of the period despite facing six shots from BSU, several of which came during a penalty kill after a checking from behind that resulted in a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
The Falcons had to kill another penalty when McLain was called for tripping at the 1:12 mark of the third period. As that penalty ended, Nell made a key save off a deflection. The loose puck found McLain as he came back on the ice, and McLain raced for an unassisted breakaway goal with 16:40 left in the game.
That goal proved to be the game-winner and was McLain's third such goal of the season.
BSU's Markus Gerbrandt added some drama when he cut BGSU's lead to 2-1 at the 13:05 mark of the third. However, Nell remained true for the remainder of the game. The Beavers pulled Bitzer with 2:26 to go, and the Falcons scored an empty net goal 31 seconds later for the final 3-1 margin. That was credited to Matt Pohlkamp and was unassisted. It was Bowling Green's second straight game with an empty netter.
Nell finished the game with 35 saves in 36 chances and had 72 saves in 75 chances during BGSU's two wins in the series. Overall, he finished the weekend 93-for-99 on save opportunities.
McLain led the Falcons with a goal and an assist and had a +2 on-ice rating for the series. His goal was the third of his playoff career.
Pohlkamp's and Cooper's goals were their second career playoff scores. The assist from Brandon Hawkins was his first in the playoffs.
Stephen Baylis and Kevin Dufour did not score points Sunday but led BGSU with four and three on the weekend.
The star of the series was BGSU's power play team. Against BSU, whose penalty kill was ranked fourth nationally before this weekend, the Falcons were 6-for-12 on the power play. In the two victories, they were 5-for-7.
BGSU (22-13-6) now advances to the WCHA Final Five where they will face second-seeded Minnesota State in the semifinals Friday. If they win that game, they will face either Michigan Tech or Ferris State in the championship game Saturday.