Bowling Green Wins 'Battle For Ohio,' & Other WCHA Notes

Saturday’s much-ballyhooed Orange-out at Bowling Green did not disappoint, though the party was a tad late getting out of the gate. The Falcons spent most of the first period scrambling in their own end against an Ohio State team eager to exact revenge from the squad that had embarrassed them in their own rink. 

The Buckeyes held the Falcons shotless until late in the first, as Bowling Green relied heavily on their resolute junior goalie Ryan Bednard to keep a one-goal deficit from ballooning. It took over two periods for the 5,000 fans in orange to finally celebrate a Falcon goal, as the indomitable Lukas Craggs buried a breakaway chance just over a minute in the third, setting off a cacophony of sound and light. The colorful jamboree rolled on for close to an hour, thanks to overtime. 

The game ended in a 2-2 tie, giving the Falcons three points out of four against a team largely intact from a run to the Frozen Four, but it did not satisfy this year’s Bowling Green squad. After the game, Chris Bergeron had to urge his boys to consider that week’s accomplishments, 2-0-1 record against ranked teams from the two best conferences in hockey. 

“You guys did a hell of a job, put the music on,” Bergeron said. The sweaty Falcons remained quiet and grim after surrendering a late lead to the No. 4 Buckeyes, disappointed that they didn’t pull off a sweep in the “Battle of Ohio.” 

And their sterling 5-1-1 record in out-of-conference play might be the difference between watching or participating in the NCAA tournament. 

“You want to give yourself a chance,” Bergeron said. “I think we’ve done that with this year’s non-conference schedule.” 

Notes Around The League

BGSU’s success has been vital for the WCHA, whose record through October stands at 15-23-3, a .402 winning percentage, which will hurt come March at selection time. Insiders point to the league’s 0-4 record against fledgling Arizona State as costly. The resurrection story of Bemidji State transfer goaltender Zach Driscoll continued this weekend up Northern Michigan Saturday. In the critical second period, Northern outshot the visiting Beavers 13-4, yet the Beavers outscored the Wildcats 1-0 to tie the game, eventually escaping Marquette with a 2-1 road victory against the reigning WCHA champs despite being outshot 28-22. Hockey may be a team game, but one man’s performance had a direct bearing on two points in the standings. Driscoll has a 0.96 GAA in two games this year.

Other hockey news coming out of Marquette this weekend was the announcement that Northern was conducting a “formal study” to elevate women’s hockey to a varsity program. Those familiar with the proceedings point to athletic director Forrest Karr as the driving force. Former Wildcat national champion Dallas Drake, now a devoted hockey dad whose daughter Delaney is a sophomore playing at Wisconsin, approves heartily. “I’m excited that NMU is pursuing this, long overdue,” he said. “There is absolutely no reason that there is no Division I women’s hockey in the state of Michigan…” 

The new USCHO poll has come out, and due to their 2-0-1 week, Bowling Green has jumped six places to No. 9. They now join No. 4 Minnesota State in the top 10, the first time two WCHA schools have been in the top 10 since the 2014-15 season when Michigan Tech accompanied Minnesota State.

Tim Rappleye is the author of "Jack Parker's Wiseguys" and the forthcoming book: "Hobey Baker, Upon Further Review," set for release in November. He can be reached @TeeRaps.

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