Soaring into second place: Falcons stay hot and top Tommies

St. Thomas’ Mack Byers tries to get set up in the slot in front of Bowling Green goalie Cole Moore as the Falcons’ Eric Parker defends during a game Feb. 17 in Mendota Heights. (Photo by Shannon Stieg)

By Ryan Stieg 

MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. — By the end of February, hockey teams want to be reaching their peak as they prepare for the postseason and right now, Bowling Green is showing how good they really are.  

After an awful start to the year, the Falcons are on a hot streak and on Saturday night, they topped St. Thomas 3-1 to pick up five of the possible six points in the series. The victory also moved BG into a three-way tie for second place in the CCHA standings with the Tommies and Minnesota State.  

“Obviously, you’re excited,” Falcons head coach Ty Eigner said. “It wasn’t easy by any stretch. St. Thomas came back and pushed tonight. They’ve done a really good job in a short time over there, and I’m honestly not just saying that. They play hard and this is a hard place to play. And for us to come up and get five out of the six points is big. Again, I said it last night, the guys in there that are so excited are the ones that deserve all the credit.” 

For the Tommies, it was another disappointing night as they continue to battle injuries during the final stretch of the regular season.  

“I thought we worked hard tonight,” UST head coach Rico Blasi said. “They executed a couple more plays than we did. They blocked a lot of shots (17 total), and their goaltender (Cole Moore), we didn’t make it hard on him. He saw everything and he played well.” 

Bowling Green goalie Cole Moore relaxes after making a save as teammate Eric Parker and Tommies forwards Noah Prokop (13) and Luke Manning look on during a game Feb. 17 in Mendota Heights. (Photo by Shannon Stieg)

Just like last night, Brett Pfoh got things started for the Falcons as he sent a shot from the point that went off a Tommies player and past goalie Jake Sibell to make it 1-0. The rest of the period, the best scoring chances were for UST. While on the power play, Lucas Wahlin had a good look from the right faceoff circle, but it was gloved by Moore with 15:01 remaining. Later, with about 7:30 left, Quinton Pepper just missed a goal on a wraparound attempt and with just over two minutes remaining, Matthew Gleason was fed in the slot, but couldn’t lift the puck over Moore’s shoulder.  

The second period got a little more physical and BG’s defense limited the Tommies’ offensive opportunities. UST’s best scoring chance came with 9:34 remaining as a deflection went right to UST’s Grant Docter, who tried to go high on Moore, but the freshman just got a piece of it to keep it 1-0. Just 23 seconds later, BG struck again on the scoreboard as Seth Fyten skated up the right boards and beat Sibell top shelf to push the Falcons’ lead to 2-0.  

St. Thomas’ Liam Malmquist fires a shot on net during a game against Bowling Green on Feb. 17 in Mendota Heights. (Photo by Shannon Stieg)

UST finally solved Moore at the 2:24 mark of the third period while on the power play. After Fyten was whistled for tripping, Gleason tipped an Ethan Gauer shot into the back of the net to cut the Tommies’ deficit to 2-1. Toward the end of the third, the Tommies pulled Sibell for the extra attacker and drew a BG cross checking penalty with 1:24 remaining. However, UST couldn’t capitalize and then committed a penalty of its own to prevent the Falcons’ Ben Doran from getting a breakaway empty netter. Since Doran would’ve scored before the penalty, the goal automatically counted, and the Falcons completed their victory.  

“Everybody wants to be playing the best hockey at the end of the year, and I think for us because of what we went through, it was really difficult for us to play our best hockey early,” Eigner said. “We only could go up. We had a 2-8 start, so going up was the only option and our guys have stuck with it. Everybody within our program never wavered. We’ve stuck to our core values of discipline, toughness and integrity and we just keep working every day. These guys care about each other, they fight for each other, they want to win for each other, and when you’re around a group like that, it’s fun to come to the rink.” 

BG plays Michigan Tech next week, while the Tommies host Bemidji State.  

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