Morning Observations: A Sad Split?

By November 11, 2013Opinion

Every week Ryan breaks down the past weekend’s games (for better or worse) in his “Morning Observations.” Sometimes they’re humorous, sometimes they’re serious, and sometimes they change the world as you know it. Regardless, enjoy the thoughts of Mr. Satkowiak and send all adoration/hate his way to Ryan@bgsuhockey.com.

This is the type of intro I would normally save for the power rankings, but it was really funny and I can’t contain myself.

In women’s college hockey, Bemidji State defeated Ohio State 3-2 on Friday night. You really thought that was the story? Nope! The story was, after the final horn, someone said something that angered someone else, which enticed a full-on brawl. OK, it wasn’t really a brawl. In fact, I felt incredibly misled when I saw the headline on Deadspin. I expected murderous left hooks.

It was a huge, slightly-more-violent-than-normal scrum. But since players had already starting filing onto the ice because the game was over, just about everyone took that as a license to do whatever they wanted. False move, Zimbabwe. The incident led to 287 penalty minutes, 303 total for the game, which set the NCAA record by a pretty heft margin. It used to be 268, in a men’s game between Boston University and Maine. The women’s record was 83. So yeah that was funny.

Even funnier was it led to 19 game DQ’s, which, if you remember correctly, means 19 players were suspended for Saturday’s rematch. That led to a pretty hilarious box score that had both teams only able to dress two forward lines and two defensive pairs.

Now that I got that out of my system, BG had a pretty strong weekend against preseason WCHA favorite Minnesota State, but I can’t help but think they left the weekend disappointed with a split.

Plain and simple, that’s where this team is right now. In past years, getting a split with the arguable top team in its conference was a huge victory. Now it’s kind of a moderate disappointment. To be clear, that’s a good thing.

Generally speaking: If we’re going to be frank about things, I think this weekend was BG’s most impressive of the season.

I’ll start by saying that I think, now eight games into their season, Minnesota State might have been a little oversold in terms of how good they actually are. Not placing blame for anyone overhyping them. They certainly appeared like they would be the class of the WCHA.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think they’re a good team, and when the season is wrapping up, it would not surprise me in the least if they are the best team in the conference. They just aren’t there right now.

But still, other than Union, this is the best team BG has played this season. And the Falcons handled them pretty well.

Friday’s game, this shots were a rather deceiving 33-25 in Mankato’s favor. BG scored three times in the second period (twice shorthanded!) to go up 4-2, and seemed to be content to merely hold onto the lead for the third period.

In the process, BG chased preseason All-WCHA goalie Stephon Williams, who has been really bad this year. He has a 3.40 goals-against average and a .867 save percent. Conversely, freshman backup Cole Huggins has a 1.11 GAA and a .964 save percent. He stymied BG Saturday night.

Speaking of Saturday, I felt that BG was in firm control of the game up until overtime. In regulation, the Falcons had a 33-22 shot edge. In OT that was 3-0 for the Mavericks. Did BG just run out of gas? Did Mankato simply find a fifth gear? I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter, the result was still the same.

This is why this weekend has to be so frustrating for the Falcons. Completely discounting the third period Friday, BG was the better team for the entire weekend, except for the overtime Saturday. When you play that well, you expect to get four points out of the weekend. This isn’t the NHL, so despite getting that game Saturday to overtime, there’s no loser’s point. It’s just one in the ‘L’ column.

That being said, it was a good start to a difficult four-week run. You’d like to see BG get at least one sweep sometime in the next three weeks, especially since this team has designs on winning the conference title. Good teams get splits; great teams get sweeps.

Between the pipes: Another game, another ho-hum solid performance and a win for Tommy Burke, who remains undefeated at 3-0-2 this season. Yet he’s going to continue to take a back seat in the notes due to Tomas Sholl once again playing out of his mind.

He stopped 24 of 25 shots, including one on a breakaway in the last minute of the third. On the season, he has a 2-flat GAA and a .915 save percent.

Not that Burke has been any worse. He’s at a 2.13 GAA and .914 save percent. As a whole, BG’s 2.2 goals against per game is best in the conference.

This is literally the best thing Chris Bergeron could have hoped for. I mean, if we’re being completely honest, I don’t think even he thought his defense would be this great through the first 10 games.

Yes still, five games for each goalie isn’t a huge sample size. But at this point, we’re a little less than a third of the way into the season. Yeah one bad weekend can still throw those numbers all out of whack, but both goalies have proven they are more than capable of performing at high levels.

The biggest thing here for BG is the competition seems to be fueling these guys. They know how well the other guy is doing, and I’m sure they’re aware that as soon as one of them gives Bergeron a reason to take an extra look at the other guy, he’s going to do it. Just like he did with the Eno-Hammond rotation in 2010.

Offense: Bryce Williamson is now on a three-game pointless streak, which means the world is ending and everyone should stock up on non-perishable food items and run for cover.

But really, the streak applies to the entire Williamson-Cooper-Murphy line. Does that mean they all the sudden started to stink and are no longer capable of producing offense? Of course not. More likely, it means that teams (and by teams I mean Minnesota State) are going to start keying on them and using their best defensive players to face them.

What that means is it’s going to open favorable matchups for other players on this team. It also means that getting Ryan Carpenter back (potentially as soon as this weekend) is going to be a huge boost. Why? Well aside from the obvious “he’s the best player on this team” answer … well, that’s pretty much the dumbed-down version of it.

In slightly more complex terms, Carpenter has a reputation, not just within the BG fanbase, but throughout the conference, as being a great player. Teams know who he is and how dangerous he is. It may not be the case when he first gets back, but sooner rather than later he’s going to make his presence felt which means his line is going to be the one teams focus the brunt of their energy on stopping.

Since you can bet Bergeron is not going to break up that Williamson-Cooper-Murphy line, that means they will be one of the groupings that benefit from the opposing team being more concerned about Carpenter’s line. It’s a chain reaction. Obviously you’re trying to play great defense every time you’re on the ice. But typically teams have one defensive pairing and/or forward group that they trust the most to shut down an opposing team’s top line. So shutting down multiple lines at all times is simply not prudent.

Exactly how these lines shake up, I don’t know. Aside from the Cooper line, it seems the other three have been pretty fluid with the players on them. But Tate-DeSalvo-Mingo had a pretty good weekend. If I had to guess, I’d say Carpenter gets at least Berkle on one wing. They’ve had success in the past and Berkle looks like he’s ready to offensively explode.

Speaking of chain reactions, with Carpenter’s return imminent, I wonder what this will mean for the centers. Right now it seems like DeSalvo and Cooper are both firmly entrenched in their roles. That leaves Cam Wojtala and Andrew Wallace.

Does one move to the wing? If not, who gets scratched? The easy answer here would be Wallace, but Wojtala hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire with three points in 10 games. Maybe a game off to clear his head a bit wouldn’t be a bad idea, but do you really healthy scratch one of your captains? We shall see.

Ferris: Ferris is exactly who we thought they would be this season. They’re 7-2 overall and 4-0 in the WCHA.

OK, they haven’t really played anyone. Which is putting it nicely. Their conference games have been against Huntsville and Bemidji. Non-conference? Colgate, Mercyhurst and St. Lawrence. Not exactly a murders row.

But the Bulldogs are on a five-game win streak, with the latter three being lackluster efforts against the aforementioned Huntsville and Bemidji teams.

In goal, C.J. Motte has wrestled the every day job back, or something, after Charles Williams split with him the first couple of weekends. Statistically speaking, Motte has been unimpressive with a 2.56 GAA and a .901 save percent. But he has a 7-0 record.

That’s because Ferris has been surprisingly offensively proficient. Which is a cheap way for me to say they’re leading the conference with 3.89 goals per game. Which is .77 goals per game more than anyone else. That’s nuts.

Justin Buzzeo and Garrett Thompson lead the team with 11 points. Defensemen Scott Czarnowczan and Jason Binkley are both producing at point-per-game levels with 10 and nine points, respectively.

Yeah, they score a lot, which means this will be the toughest test to date for BG’s defense. I can dig it, best offense against the best defense. As they say, “something’s gotta give.”

Ryan Satkowiak

About Ryan Satkowiak

Ryan is a features and column writer for BGSUHockey.com. During the day, he works part time for the Sentinel-Tribune and the Findlay Courier, and is a part-time people seater at Buffalo Wild Wings. Ryan covered the BG hockey team for The BG News for two and a half years during his time at BG. You can chat him up on Twitter @Ryan_Satkowiak or by e-mail at Ryan@bgsuhockey.com.

  • If we are upset about a split with the team picked to win the conference, that is a wonderful problem to have. Roll along!

error: Please contact Todd@BGSUHockey.com for photo rights.