When Miami hockey began its season at the Goggin Ice Center Sunday, the day brought an extra sense of sentiment for coach Chris Bergeron.
Facing his former Bowling Green Falcons in his first game as head coach of the RedHawks, any sort of special treatment was nonexistent once the puck hit the ice.
The RedHawks battled until the end but could not keep up with the high-powered Falcons, falling 7-4.
The first period came and went with Miami showing the offensives woes of years past. Bowling Green came out hot with four shots on goal in the first 90 seconds of play. The intensity of the occasion was easily felt on the ice, with physical play the main theme in the first 20 minutes. The RedHawks found it difficult to find their groove early, and it showed throughout the first period, as neither team found the back of the net.
The second period brought with it a sense of urgency, as both teams looked to score their first goal of the season. Miami did not have to wait long, as senior forward Gordie Green scored within the first minute of play. The Ann Arbor, Michigan native danced through two defenders on his way to scoring.
“Obviously, you would rather have a win,” Green said. “You always want the win.”
After a series of penalties following the opening goal, Bowling Green responded with a goal of its own and tied the game at one.
The shots on goal differential continued to grow throughout the second period of play, with the Falcons continuing to create quality goal-scoring chances. The deadlock was broken by a deflected Falcon pass finding its way past senior goaltender Ryan Larkin to give Bowling Green a 2-1 lead heading into the second intermission.
The RedHawks entered the third period being outshot 25 to eight, further displaying the offensive disconnect that has haunted the team in recent years. Miami came out of the locker room firing to start the third, but it was unable to capitalize on several offensive chances early.
Larkin believes that the team can and will improve on staying focused for 60 minutes.
“I think if there is one thing, it is talking more,” Larkin said. “It makes the game so much easier when you’re talking to everyone and everyone knows where to go with the puck.”
Bowling Green extended its lead to 3-1 after a squandered Miami chance. The Falcons stepped up the intensity after their third goal of the night, making life for Miami very challenging on both ends of the ice. The lead grew again, as Bowling Green scored off a deflected shot from the point.
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Down three goals, the RedHawks continued to fight for offensive chances. Senior forward Karch Bachman scored seven minutes into the third period to cut the deficit to two goals with 13 minutes remaining. A breath of new life swept through the Steve “Coach” Cady Arena, as fans felt the game was not yet over.
Miami’s deficit got even bigger, as Bowling Green added a goal on the powerplay, bringing its lead back to three goals (5-2). As time wound down, the RedHawks seemed as though they were running out of gas in the tank.
Just as the student section began to empty, the RedHawks climbed back into the game. Two goals, one each from Green and Bachman, cut the lead to one goal with just under four minutes remaining.
Heading into the final two minutes, Bowling Green added two more goals, one of which was on an empty Miami goal after the RedHawks pulled Larkin.
The final score was 7-4.
“It’s a starting point,” Bergeron said. “I would like to think that we saw some of what we are going to be in the opponent tonight.”
Miami will hope to turn things around, as the University of New Hampshire comes to Oxford for a weekend series Friday and Saturday. Puck drop for both games will be at 7:05 p.m., and both games are available on NCHC.tv.