Irish drop two 5-2 decisions to Falcons
Jack Concannon | Tuesday, December 3, 2019
The Irish faced a tough weekend against the Bowling Green Falcons. They were beaten once at home and once on the road, a costly sweep that dropped them from No. 4 to No. 9/10 in the rankings. The Falcons (10-5, 5-3 WCHA) surged from No. 15 to No. 11/13 on the strength of the pair of 5-2 wins.
Irish head coach Jeff Jackson said the Irish (8-4-2, 4-2-2 B1G) did not handle the Falcons’ system well.
“We didn’t handle their pressure really well. That’s how they play the game. They’re fast out of their zone, they wrap pucks out of their zone and they chip pucks in and put pressure on you. They don’t give you a lot because they almost play a man-on-man system,” Jackson said. “It’s like playing old Pitino basketball the way they have a full court press going. You have to be able to make plays to bypass that pressure in order to get opportunities. We didn’t do it enough tonight, and we gave up goals as a result of it too.”
The Friday night matchup in Compton Family Ice Arena started poorly for Notre Dame, with Bowling Green senior forward Casey Linkenheld netting a breakaway goal less than four minutes into the game. The Irish would respond as they usually have thus far with senior forward Cam Morrison evening the game on the power play about halfway through the frame.
After this close first period, the Falcons put the game out of reach. They scored three goals in the second period, putting four past senior Cale Morris on 17 shots. Morris was lifted for sophomore goalie Ryan Bischel after the second period, and the teams would trade goals in the third to take a 5-2 Friday night win. Jackson said that despite being pulled, Morris was not the one at fault for most of the goals.
“He got [beat on the] backdoor on the power play, he had a couple of breakaways. They had a couple odd man rushes. I don’t put that on him,” Jackson said. “The last goal they got I thought was a weak goal, but the first three were not.”
Unlike all Big Ten series, this was a more traditional college hockey weekend set that saw games played in both teams’ arenas. After failing to defend home ice, Notre Dame took the six hour bus drive ride down to Bowling Green to try to avenge that loss.
The game was more competitive than the first, but yielded an identical outcome. Senior Mike O’Leary put the Irish on top early with a power play tally, but the Falcons cashed in on a scramble in front of Bischel to tie the game. The Falcons would get one more before the opening period ended, taking a 2-1 lead into the locker room. Morrison had an excellent look at the net late in the first, but was stoned by Falcons junior goaltender Eric Dop. Jackson had praise for Dop, and believed his team had a hard time putting away their chances.
“He made some good saves,” Jackson said. “We had some chances we could not finish on early in the game when the game was still within reach. We didn’t finish.”
Irish freshman forward Trevor Janicke was snake bitten in the first matchup, but had the response the Irish needed on an odd man rush to make the game 2-2 in the second period. Just when it appeared the Irish were ready to find another comeback as they have all year, the Falcons slammed the door shut. They scored two goals late in the second, essentially putting the game out of reach. Jackson said he was impressed with Bowling Green’s experience and offensive ability.
“They’re a veteran team; they have a lot of upperclassmen. They have three or four guys on there that could be 100 point guys by the time they graduate,” Jackson said. “Those are rare guys if you think of the guys we’ve had that have been 100 point guys. They have been pretty high-end players.”
Bowling Green would once again tack on a third period goal to take a 5-2 win. Though the losses were not in the Big Ten, they will hurt the Irish in getting an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament if they do not win the Big Ten tournament title. Jackson said the team needs to improve going forward.
“We have to get our heads straight and recognize the areas we have to get better at. I think our game plan was pretty good. I don’t think we executed it well,” Jackson said. “For whatever reason, because we haven’t played them before or if our guys just weren’t prepared for what they were going to face, I’m not sure they totally brought into what we were telling them but I think they know that now.”