Sophomore Max Johnson turned a slow start from Bowling Green into a fast response, leading the No. 15 Falcons to a sweep over two-time defending champ Michigan Tech in the first round of the WCHA Tournament.
Johnson tallied an assist on the Falcons’ first goal, sparking an offensive burst that ended with him scoring the game-winning goal only a minute and 46 second later on his way to being named the first star in the 3-2 win.
The next night, Johnson wasted no time with a goal and two assists in the first period. He added another goal in the second frame as his four-point performance earned him first star honors again, as well as WCHA Forward of the Week and the NCAA’s Third Star of the Week.
Johnson has struggled with bouts of inconsistency this season, with six-game, three-game and five-game scoreless stretches. But when he’s hot, he’s virtually unstoppable, which is what has helped him post a career season with 17 goals and 20 assists for 37 points in as many games.
And right now, Johnson is sizzling with three straight multi-point games amounting to eight points (4 G, 4 A). Going back a bit further, he has six goals over his last six games, helping carry him to second in team scoring behind only Brandon Kruse.
Johnson will lead the Falcons into their next series, but the play of netminder Ryan Bednard and the team’s correlating play to defenseman Alec Rauhauser will be just as important in their push for the NCAA Tournament.
But for now, their focus needs to be on their next test as they head to Marquette to take on Northern Michigan in another best-of-three series. It’s a rematch from last season’s WCHA Tournament, when the Wildcats bested the Falcons in overtime in a three-game series, eventually losing to Michigan Tech in the championship game.
A 2-2 season split between two rolling teams makes for an intriguing second-round matchup and potential for first upset of the tournament.
“We’ve got some unfinished business to go down there,” Johnson told Nicholas Piotrowicz of The Toledo Blade following last weekend’s sweep.
Don’t miss the series rematch live, right here on FloHockey this weekend as Johnson and the Falcons hunt for their first WCHA Tournament title.
Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @Jacob_Messing.