The Chargers’ playoff chances took a hit after an ugly 7-0 loss at Bowling Green on Friday night to start the regular season’s final series.
Fortunately for UAH (9-21-3 overall, 9-15-3 WCHA), Northern Michigan lost to Michigan Tech 3-2, keeping UAH one point behind NMU for the eighth and final playoff spot. But it means the Chargers must figure out how to solve the Falcons (16-17-2 overall, 13-13-1 WCHA), who have outscored UAH 19-4 in three games this season, or they are staying home for the playoffs for the second straight year.
The game was marred by 85 total penalty minutes on both sides. But Bowling Green was able to slam the Chargers with four power play goals on 11 opportunities. UAH was 0-for-7 with the advantage.
UAH also couldn’t contain Kevin Dufour, who seems to always have the Chargers’ number. Dufour had a hat trick, and he got the Falcons started with two goals in the first period.
At 10:23, right off the faceoff, Dufour broke away and beat UAH goaltender Carmine Guerriero as the Falcons drew first blood.
About five minutes later, Dufour took the puck from the far wall, around in front of the Charger net, and scored on a backhander for a 2-0 BGSU lead.
Bowling Green extended its lead to 3-0 on the power play early in the second period after a high sticking penalty on Cody Champagne. Mitch McLain deflected a Mark Friedman shot past Guerriero at the 4:06 mark.
UAH’s best opportunity to get back into the game was after back-to-back penalties by the Falcons. Lukas Craggs made contact to the head on Hans Gorowksy, earning him a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
After 2:24 of the ensuing major power play, Mark Friedman cross-checked Josh Kestner, giving the Chargers a full two minutes of 5-on-3.
However, the Falcons would survive, as UAH had trouble getting set and Chris Nell making important saves to the delight of a relatively small but vocal crowd at the Slater Family Ice Arena.
The third period started with more penalties on UAH that made it difficult to get any rally going. Further, Adam Smith scored on the power play at the 5:14 to make it 4-0.
Then Dufour completed the hat trick with 13:06 remaining for a 5-0 Falcon lead. That too was on the power play.
The rest of the game was featured more penalties on both sides as several scuffles broke out. Both BGSU’s Tyler Spezia and UAH’s Brennan Saulnier each had 10-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
Reminiscent of the Nov. 19 game in Huntsville, the Falcons added two late garbage goals by Frederic LeTourneau and Alec Rauhauser for the final 7-0 score.
Guerriero made 35 saves, but he was tagged with all seven goals. Nell stopped all 33 shots he faced for the shutout.
The Falcons were tied for fourth place with Ferris State in the WCHA standings coming in, looking for home ice in the first round of the conference playoffs.
The regular season finale is Saturday at 6:07 p.m. Central Time.
Notes: Brent Fletcher played his 138th game at UAH, setting a new program record. … UAH defenseman Kurt Gosselin was back in the lineup after missing three games for concussion-like symptoms.