MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. – One of the big storylines for the St. Thomas men’s hockey program this season is that they’ve come so close to getting victories and just fell short in the third period.

That storyline continued Friday night against Bowling Green as the Tommies were tied 2-2 heading into the third, but the Falcons scored a power play goal to take the lead and picked up an empty netter to hand UST a tough 4-2 loss.

“I think we played pretty good tonight, outside of that penalty kill,” Tommies head coach Rico Blasi said. “That’s where they scored their goal. We had chances to get it out and we couldn’t get it out. They kept it in for the entire two minutes and scored at the end of it.

"Other than that, I thought our process was pretty good. We probably deserved a little bit better, but that’s a good team. They wore us down at the end and we couldn’t get any offense in the last five minutes. I was happy with our process. It’s kind of been like that all year, right? It’s probably the same answer I’ve been giving you since Day 1. We’re in games, but we’ve gotta focus on the details.”

St. Thomas' Grant Loven and Bowling Green's Max Coyle jaw with each other after the whistle during a game Friday, Jan. 7, 2022 in Mendota Heights, Minn. Shannon Stieg / Special to The Rink Live
St. Thomas' Grant Loven and Bowling Green's Max Coyle jaw with each other after the whistle during a game Friday, Jan. 7, 2022 in Mendota Heights, Minn. Shannon Stieg / Special to The Rink Live

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Bowling Green (10-8-3, 7-5-1 CCHA) was in control to start the first period and quickly started generating scoring chances. CCHA Rookie of the Month Austen Swankler just missed on a point-blank shot with about 16:25 left and Anton Malmstrom rang a shot off the pipe and out three minutes later. After those close misses, the Falcons found the back of the net as Nathan Burke flipped a loose puck past Tommies goalie Peter Thome with 12:38 remaining.

UST (1-20, 1-14) answered back in the final few minutes of the period. Christiano Versich and Tim Piechowski came close to tying the game on good individual efforts, but teamwork is what got the Tommies on the scoreboard. With 4:14 remaining, Texas native Kimball Johnson got a nice pass from captain Matthew Jennings in the slot and beat Bowling Green goalie Christian Stoever top shelf to tie the game at 1-1.

“It’s a relief (to get his first goal),” Johnson said. “I’ve been working hard and trying to be more offensive and it’s finally paid off, but at the end of the day, the game didn’t go our way and that’s what really matters.”

The Tommies had a good opportunity to take the lead after the Falcons were whistled for a penalty in the final three minutes, but Bowling Green killed it off. Seconds later, Ryan O’Hara got a cross ice pass from Spencer Schneider and beat Thome to put Bowling Green up 2-1 going into the third.

Just like the first period, Bowling Green looked sharp from the start as it rang another shot off the pipe and Schneider had a shot slide just wide of an open net with 13:45 left. However, the Tommies started to get things going as the period wore on and got a lucky break at the 9:19 mark. With the two teams battling for the puck near the Falcons net, the puck got loose to an open Cameron Recchi in the slot and he tucked it past Stoever to tie the game at 2-2.

St. Thomas' Kimball Johnson. left, celebrates his goal with teammates Cameron Recchi, right, and Logan Ommen during the first period of a game against Bowling Green Friday, Jan. 7, 2022 in Mendota Heights, Minn. Shannon Stieg / Special to The Rink Live
St. Thomas' Kimball Johnson. left, celebrates his goal with teammates Cameron Recchi, right, and Logan Ommen during the first period of a game against Bowling Green Friday, Jan. 7, 2022 in Mendota Heights, Minn. Shannon Stieg / Special to The Rink Live

Once again, the Tommies had chances to take the lead, but ended up hurting themselves with penalties. UST had two power plays in the period that were taken away thanks to a too many men call and a tripping penalty on Johnson, who stopped Taylor Schneider on a shorty attempt in the final minute.

Penalties finally did the Tommies in during the third. After getting whistled for interference, Taylor Schneider got a pass from Alex Barber and sniped a shot past Thome to put the Falcons up 3-2. UST didn’t give up though as it pulled Thome for the extra skater in the final five minutes, but Malmstrom found the back of the empty net to complete the victory with two seconds left.

RELATED: Read more coverage of St. Thomas on The Rink Live

When asked what his team needs to do to come out with a split tomorrow, Blasi again said it all comes down to details.

“It’s hard to describe, but details of the game are what count,” he said. “When the details are good, you’re gonna get bounces. When your details are not good, then you leave things to chance. We can’t afford to leave things to chance. We have to be, I don’t want to say perfect, but we’ve gotta be perfect on the details. This is a game of mistakes. It’s the team that makes the least amount of mistakes that wins games. They’re gonna make mistakes, we’re gonna make mistakes. But we cannot allow ourselves to add to that by not paying attention to details.”

Bowling Green 4, St. Thomas 2

Summary:

First period — 1. BG, Nathan Burke 12 (Lloyd, Coyle) 7:22; 2. UST, Kimball Johnson 1 (Jennings, Recchi) 15:46; 3. BG, Ryan O’Hara 1 (S. Schneider) 18:34.

Second period — 4. UST, Cameron Recchi 3 (Ommen) 9:19.

Third period — 5. BG, Taylor Schneider 7 (Barber) PPG 7:24; 6. BG, Anton Malmstrom 3 (T. Schneider) ENG 19:58.

Power-play opportunities: BG 1 of 4; UST 0 of 5

Penalties: BG 5-10; UST 4-8

Goalie saves: BG, Christian Stoever 19 (4-8-7); UST, Peter Thome 29 (6-11-12)