Detroit — If you’re going to get it after early, you might as well get after it often.
Such was the plan for Bowling Green Monday, as its four-goal second-period lead allowed the Falcons to hang on for their first Great Lakes Invitational win in a 6-4 thriller over Michigan.
Bowling Green will play Michigan Tech in Tuesday’s GLI championship at 6 p.m.
“Big picture, it’s huge,” Bowling Green coach Chris Bergeron said. “We were excited for the opportunity, now to get a win and take advantage of the opportunity makes it even that much better.”
The Falcons took a 4-1 lead into the third, benefiting from a series of one-two punches during the first and second period that stunned the Wolverines.
“I thought we played hard, which brought us energy,” Bowling Green coach Chris Bergeron said. “It was nice to get rewarded with pucks going in.”
Momentum played a heavy theme throughout, though no instances seemed to hold the same weight of Tyler Spezia and Justin Wells’ first-period goals, which came on Bowling Green’s second and third shots of the game.
It’s an impressive shooting percentage, but up until Spezia’s goal at 10:11, Michigan had controlled the game flow and was racking up shots of its own in the process before Bowling Green flipped the momentum.
Bowling Green coach Chris Bergeron discusses the first Great Lakes Invitational win in his school's history. Nolan Bianchi
For a group of players representing their school at the GLI for the first time since 1984, nerves will do that.
“We still have young guys, we’re in this pretty cool building,” Bergeron said. “When you play a team who has a program like Michigan does, we’re pretty excited.”
Jake Slaker got Michigan’s comeback rolling, tallying a goal near the end of the second period and adding another in the third to make it 4-2.
Max Johnson extended the Bowling Green lead moments later, but the Wolverines slid back into the game with a bit of puck luck – and then what seemed like an omen.
Down 5-3, Jack Becker waffled a puck at Jack LaFontaine from the blue line that proceeded to ricochet off the Falcon goaltender and flip over his back into the net, drawing the Wolverines within a goal at 12:37.
The Falcons took control from there.
“Instead of running around, we stayed focused, calm and collected, and finished the game,” Bowling Green forward Connor McDonald said.
Lukas Craggs scored two goals, one of them 15 seconds into the second period to extend the Falcons lead to 3-0, and the other an empty-net goal to seal it.
“It brings me up a lot,” said Craggs about his performance. “Just got a shot on net that went in, and the team started rolling again.”
More:Michigan Tech skates past MSU, into GLI final
Max Johnson scored Bowling Green’s lone even-strength goal in the third period.
Michigan was without forwards Josh Norris and Will Lockwood and defenseman Quinn Hughes, who are competing at the World Junior Championships in Buffalo. Michigan coach Mel Pearson doesn’t want that to be an excuse.
“The guys that get an opportunity to play the game have to play,” Pearson said. “We’ve played in this tournament many times at Michigan without players, and have had success here.”
“It’s on the guys who wore the jerseys tonight.”
GLI at LCA
What: Great Lakes Invitational
Where: Little Caesars Arena
Semifinal: Michigan Tech 5, Michigan State 2
Semifinal: Bowling Green 6, Michigan 4
Consolation: Michigan State vs. Michigan, 2:30 (FSD)
Championship: Michigan Tech vs. Bowling Green, 6 (FSD)
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer