The Chargers clinched a WCHA playoff spot on Friday, and stunned 15th-ranked Bowling Green 4-2 in Ohio.
UAH’s berth was official when Ferris State lost to Lake Superior State 5-2, but the Chargers wouldn’t leave it at that, earning their first win over a ranked team this season.
The Chargers (8-25-2 overall, 8-17-2-2 WCHA) scored three goals in a 3:54 span early in a crazy third period, eliminating a 1-0 deficit.
Bowling Green (20-9-5, 15-8-4-3), already having secured home ice in the first round, fell to third place in the WCHA standings heading into Saturday’s rematch and regular-season finale (6 p.m., FloHockey.tv).
The exciting end of the game overcame a lackluster first period, when there were no goals, no penalties, and hardly any stoppages of play. Shots on goal were seven for both teams.
The first goal and penalty occurred at the same time at 5:08 of the second period.
Bowling Green’s Sam Craggs was all alone in front of the UAH net. He was hooked by Madison Dunn on his initial shot, which was saved by Mark Sinclair, but he put in the rebound to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead.
Dunn went to the penalty box for the hook, but the Chargers were able to kill it to prevent further damage.
The Chargers would not get their first shot on goal of the second period until there was 9:22 to go.
It was late in the second period when Lake Superior State defeated Ferris State 5-2 in Sault Ste. Marie, officially giving the eighth seed of the WCHA playoffs to the Chargers.
UAH senior captain Kurt Gosselin had to be attended to by medical staff after being hit, as physical play cranked up late in the second. He did return to action in the third period, when the Chargers fired off to three quick goals to take the lead.
First, Gosselin assisted on Madison Dunn’s wrap-around to tie the game at 1-1 at the 3:49 mark. It was Dunn’s fourth goal of the season.
Then Jesper Ohrvall, on a 2-on-1 break, took the shot himself, his wrister beating Ryan Bednard high at 5:50.
Hans Gorowsky followed up on the power play with team-leading 12th goal of the season to give UAH a 3-1 lead with 12:17 remaining.
From that point, it was a matter of the Chargers holding on, because the Falcons were buzzing. They outshot UAH 12-8 in the third, most of the shots coming in the second half of the period.
Bowling Green’s pressure finally paid off. The Falcons cut UAH’s lead to 3-2 on another delayed penalty call while the Chargers were already back on their heels. Jacob Dalton had the tally with 8:00 to go.
Jack Jeffers was the guilty Charger with the slashing call, but UAH was able to keep the lead and kill another two minutes off the clock.
Bowling Green pulled Bednard (14 saves) for the extra attacker with 1:40 remaining, and the Chargers got an empty-net goal from Connor Merkley to seal the win.
UAH will head to Mankato, Minn., as the eighth seed next week to face the top seed, Minnesota State, in the best-of-3 WCHA quarterfinals. The Chargers lost 6-1 and 4-0 to the Mavericks in Mankato a month ago.
Sinclair stayed sharp during the furious final frame, finishing with 28 saves on 30 Falcon shots on goal.
UAH will play in the conference tournament for the second year in a row. Last season, the seventh-seeded Chargers lost to No. 2 seed Northern Michigan in three games of the WCHA quarterfinals.
Three stars of the game:
1. Hans Gorowsky, UAH (game-winning goal)
2. Mark Sinclair, UAH (28 saves)
3. Sam Craggs, BGSU (1 goal, 1 assist)