BY J. PATRICK EAKEN | MIRROR SPORTS — Anthony Wayne senior defenseman Ben Thomas scored four goals and dished out one assist as the Generals hockey team routed Bowling Green, 10-2, in its final game of last weekend.
At Bowling Green State University’s Slater Family Ice Arena on January 31, Thomas led AW to its first Northwest Hockey Conference Red Division victory.
“We have been a little sick of losing and we tried to pull together as a team and play with each other instead of a singular person and it just worked out for us,” Thomas said.
AW improves to 7-11 overall and 1-6 in the Red Division, while BG falls to 7-15-2 and 3-6.
AW outshot BG 26-23, with Thomas striking eight shots on goal, and all his scoring came after he had to sit a two-minute penalty for hooking just 35 seconds after the game’s opening faceoff.
“We were just trying to get more shots on net,” Thomas said. “After the last couple games, we’ve been a little bit short on shots, so we’re just trying to get more pressure on the net, crash the net, and it worked out for us well.”
Less than two minutes after returning to the ice, Thomas scored on an assist from senior forward Jorey Rees, putting AW up, 1-0, with 10:52 remaining in the first period.
Less than two minutes later, AW junior defenseman Colin DiMario scored on a 30-foot slapshot, assisted by sophomore forward Asher Thompson with 8:35 remaining in the first.
However, BG forward Shane Cassin scored on a 20-foot shot, assisted by defenseman Caden Wisniewski to close the gap to 2-1 with 7:17 remaining.
AW senior forward Zach Conrad responded by scoring on a 25-foot shot, assisted by sophomore defenseman Paul Carr just 1:48 into the second period.
Twenty-seven seconds later, BG responded on a transition two-on-two goal by forward Lou Howick, assisted by forward Luke Johnson, closing the margin to one goal again, 3-2.
AW scored the game’s final seven goals unanswered, including three more in the second and four in the third period.
AW senior goalie Justin Utterback went the final 24 minutes and 45 seconds without allowing a BG shot to get past him, and he finished with 21 saves.
AW took advantage of the Bobcats, who did not have their starting goalie, Gavin Sudlow. Instead, Dylan Cox started, and later Sean Gollehan took his turn in goal, combining for 16 saves.
“I thought BG played a really good game,” coach Stephen Boehme said. “Unfortunately, they had to focus defensively, having their back-ups or guys who were not necessarily goalies before playing.
“They were really trying to key in on the defensive side of things. I think we wore them down a little bit in that regard, putting the puck in and getting to the puck in the corners like we were,” Boehme continued.
“That was the game plan – to wear down the defense and take advantage, and it finally worked.”
For AW, Conrad finished with two goals and three assists, Rees had two goals and an assist, senior forward Jason Utterback had one goal and one assist and senior forward Andrew Baker had an assist.
Before the game, BG honored the late Jamie Ruffner, who become head hockey coach at BG in 2019 until his passing at age 49 on January 10 of this year. A 1989 BGHS graduate, he had been involved with BG youth hockey for over 20 years.
AW returns to the Slater Family Ice Arena on Friday, February 5, to take on Red Division leader St. Francis (19-3-1 overall, 8-0 NHC Red) at 8:00 p.m. The Knights are ranked second in the state behind Lakewood St. Edward.
On Saturday, February 6, AW takes on Perrysburg (9-8-3, 2-4) at 9:00 p.m. at the Slater Arena in another Red Division contest.
On Sunday, February 7, AW travels to Findlay (12-8-2, 5-4) for an NHC Red game at The Cube, faceoff at noon. All three games will give AW a chance to avenge a league loss from earlier in the season.