Last March, Bowling Green capped off an 8-25-3 (5-20-3 CCHA)
campaign by losing two games at Yost Ice Arena in the first round
of the CCHA playoffs. Michigan swept the Falcons and went on to win
its sixth conference tournament in the last ten years. But Bowling
Green gained much more from the series than just closure to a
subpar season that saw it finish 11th in the CCHA.

Laura Wong
Sophomore Brandon Kaleniecki fights for position against Bowling Green last season. (FILE PHOTO)

After losing the first game of that weekend, 3-1, the Falcons
trailed Michigan 4-1 late in the third period with just over a
minute left. Instead of throwing in the towel, Bowling Green
attacked the Michigan net, and scored two quick goals, making the
score 4-3 with 13 seconds left. Although the Wolverines held on for
the win, Bowling Green coach Scott Paluch —who was in his
first season as head man for the Falcons at the time —
believes his team really benefited from the losing effort.

“That Michigan series last year was kind of a turning
point in the sense that it was our last game and our season was
over, but we knew that we could establish an identity and that
identity was, ‘We’re going to keep going, as long as
there’s time on the clock, we’re going to keep playing
and coming hard,’ ” Paluch said.

In his second season behind the Bowling Green bench, Paluch has
led the Falcons to a modest 9-14-8 mark. With five games left,
Bowling Green’s already exceeded its win and point total from
last year.

“We’re a much better all-around team than we were a
year ago,” Paluch said. “We really love the way our
team competes, day in and day out, in practice and into the
games.”

But the once-proud program still has a ways to go.

In the ’80s, the Falcons won four CCHA championships and
one national championship (1984). Dawning the orange and brown as a
defenseman from 1984 to ’88, Paluch was a big part of this
success, and earned All-America honors as a senior team
captain.

“We don’t like the position that Bowling Green has
been in the last couple years,” Paluch said. “Our goal
is to make improvements and keep moving up.”

This season’s team is led by its stellar netminder, Jordan
Sigalet. The junior leads the nation with 924 saves (29.8 per game)
and boasts a .914 career save percentage.

“(Sigalet) really has been outstanding all year,”
Paluch said. “He’s got a tremendous head for the
position. He’s big for the young guys as far as showing the
way and how hard you have to work to be successful.”

Michigan (16-5-1 CCHA, 21-8-1 overall) holds an all-time record
of 61-30-3 against the Falcons, including a 34-14 mark at Yost.
Paluch thinks his team needs to concentrate on puck control in
order to be successful this weekend.

“We do skate well, and with Michigan being the best
skating team in our league, we need to use our speed to have the
puck as much as we can,” Paluch said. “I think if
Michigan has the puck the entire weekend, they’re so skilled,
they’re going to make a lot of plays.”

Tonight is Bowling Green’s first trip to Ann Arbor since
last year’s playoff loss, and Paluch knows the valuable
opportunities that a series in Yost provides.

“With Michigan playing so well, any team that can come
into Yost and have some success, it can really go a long way in a
team’s progress,” Paluch said. “Having success at
Yost is a good way for a program to springboard.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *