Memories of a deep postseason run by Bowling Green in last season’s CCHA Tournament are still fresh in the minds of many. So fresh, it may have helped many gloss over the fact that the Falcons weren’t able to execute when they needed to down the stretch this season.
BG finished the regular season exactly how it finished the 2011-12 campaign, losing five of its final seven games. The Falcons hope to find the spark they had last postseason, when they punched a ticket to Detroit, to play at Joe Louis Arena as the No. 11 seed.
“It comes down to the fact that we have to be better,” said coach Chris Bergeron in his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “I don’t know if we’re capable of just turning on a switch all of a sudden Friday. We’ve had points and pieces and periods that have been pretty good. Obviously, not good enough and that’s what we’re trying to work on this week.”
Bowling Green (No.9) will be tested on the road, as it faces Lake Superior State University (No.8) at 7:35 p.m. tonight at Taffy Abel Arena in the first round of the CCHA Tournament in a best-of-three series.
BG posted a 4-2 record on the road in the first two rounds of last season’s tournament, defeating sixth-seeded Northern Michigan as well as the No. 1 seed and eventual National Runner-up, Ferris State. BG’s playoff run ended in a semifinal in Detroit, losing to Michigan 3-2 in double overtime. The Falcons haven’t exactly been road warriors this season, posting a 6-10-3 record away from the BGSU Ice Arena.
“Being able to take the next game for granted is over,” Bergeron said. “Hopefully our guys understand that…We have been down this road before.”
BGSU leads the all-time series against the Lakers at 76-64-10. At Taffy Abel Arena, LSSU leads 34-31-6. The last time Bowling Green faced the Lakers in the first round of the CCHA Tournament was the 2007-08 season. The Falcons won the home series, two games to one.
BG swept the Lakers 4-1 and 7-3 in the only meeting of the season, February 1-2. It was the most goals allowed by the Lakers in a single game and a series this season.
Bergeron isn’t relying on past success, knowing it will be a more physical challenge than BG faced on its home ice.
“I think at home, they present all kinds of challenges,” he said. “I think they’re a physical team, I think they’re very big. I’m not sure if the series we played against them is indicative of the way they have played all year long…I know it isn’t. They come at you at a bunch of different ways and they will fight you for it. They will dig in and battle.”
One player the Falcons must account for is senior forward Domenic Monardo who scored his 100th career point last Saturday against Northern Michigan. He is only the third Laker since 1998 to reach the 100-point career milestone. Monardo leads the Lakers in points (30) and leads the league in goals scored with 19.
Junior goaltender Kevin Murdock (10-11-0) is second in the CCHA in overall save percentage and eighth nationally at .935. Against CCHA opponents, he ranks fourth in save percentage at .932.
Goaltender: An early line chart posted online, showed that Andrew Hammond will be in goal for tonight’s game. Still nothing official from coach Bergeron. Both Hammond and freshman, Tommy Burke would like to have a better experience than the one they had against Notre Dame. Burke was pulled for the first time last Friday after giving up three goals on just eight shots. Hammond gave up five goals in four and half periods.
“We have to be better in goal and I think both of those guys know it” Bergeron said. “Andrew is the one that is more proven in this situation for sure. If he starts Friday and doesn’t do well, we’re not predetermining anything. If Tommy Burke starts and does well, you have to go with the hot hand so to speak. It depends on who will become that hot hand.”
Injury: Sophomore defenseman, Connor Kucera injured his knee against Notre Dame and did not make the trip to Lake Superior State.