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Bowling Green Rolls Along

The best story of college hockey's playoff season so far has been the Bowling Green Falcons. After finishing the regular season with a record of 5-19-4-3, good for last place in the CCHA, the Falcons have pulled off two improbably upsets to find themselves heading Joe Louis Arena for the CCHA semifinals, and just two wins away from the most unlikely NCAA tournament bid ever.

The Falcons run started with a three game series against 6th place Northern Michigan. The Falcons had shocked Northern Michgian in the same situation last year with a three-game series win, but the Wildcats had swept Bowling Green at Bowling Green less than a month prior to the series, and after Northern won the Friday game, the season looked over for the Falcons. But they came back with two straight victories, and advance to play league champion Ferris State in the next round of the tournament.

The Falcons stunned Bowling Green the first night with a 3-2 overtime victory, led by 54 saves from goalie Andrew Hammond. Bowling Green tied the Saturday game early in the third period, but after Ferris State scored four straight goals on the way to a 7-4 win, and then started Sunday's game 3 with a 3-0 lead after one period, it looked like the Cinderella story was over once again for the Falcons. But Bowling Green scored the next four goals, including the game-winning overtime goal to win the game 4-3 and advance to Joe Louis.

Leading the way for Bowling Green has been the sensational play of freshman Dan DeSalvo. Heading into the playoffs, the freshman forward had just 4 goals on the season, with two of them coming against soft non-conference opponents in Connecticut and Alabama-Huntsville. But in the CCHA Playoffs, DeSalvo has already scored a CCHA playoff record 10 goals, including the final three goals in the Sunday win against Ferris State.

The Falcons will move on to Joe Louis to play against Michigan. The two teams most recently met on the last weekend of the regular season, with a hard-fought split in Bowling Green. In a bit of good fortune for Bowling Green, their semifinal game against Michigan is scheduled to start about half an hour after the tip-off of the Michigan basketball team's NCAA tournament game, meaning instead of the usual pro-Michigan crowd the Wolverines are used to, the Joe will likely be the mostly non-existent crowd Bowling Green is used to.

There are a lot of teams hanging around on the bubble of the NCAA tournament--including a couple in the CCHA--that will be rooting against the Falcons this weekend, but otherwise, I have to believe the entire hockey world will be hoping to see the Falcons shock the world and steal the playoff tournament title.