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.
Did you know, on the season, BG has a 14-13 goal advantage in the third period this season? I did not know that and quite frankly I was surprised to see that.
Why, you ask? Because BG has been rather putrid in the third period the past two weekends.
OK, that might be a little harsh, but it’s not as big of an over-exaggeration as I normally make. The past four games, in the third period, BG has been outscored 7-4. That’s not a huge disadvantage, but when you remember that in each of those four games, BG held a lead at some point in the third period and either lost the game outright or saw it go to overtime, then it is pretty bad. BG is 1-2-1 in that stretch as is a Mark Cooper hat trick away from being winless. That’s not good. Let’s take a trip down memory lane.
Friday, Nov. 15 – Ferris State: Despite being the better team for most of the first two periods, BG entered the third period trailing 1-0. Five minutes into the period, Connor Kucera gets BG on the board and within the next 10 minutes, BG has a 3-1 lead. With five to go in regulation, that should be game over. But Ferris scored twice in the final two minutes to send the game to overtime and the teams ultimately tied.
Saturday, Nov. 16 – Ferris State: The teams were a little more evenly matched throughout the first two periods the following night, but BG took a 2-1 lead into the third period. The Falcons allowed three goals in the period in a 4-2 loss. Despite the shock value I just attempted to use, that’s a little bit misleading. Ferris tied the game 5:37 into the period on a short-handed goal, which isn’t good. But the go-ahead goal came in the second half of a five-minute major to Adam Berkle and the third goal was an empty-netter.
Friday, Nov. 22 – Minnesota State: I really don’t know how to classify this game for BG. Resilient is what I want to say. Minnesota State took a 2-0 lead in the first period, then BG scored three unanswered — two in the second, one in the third — to go ahead, before giving up the lead before winning in overtime. But I feel like if you say this was a 100 percent resilient effort, you saying that they process doesn’t matter as long as the result is positive. Which ultimately I guess is true. But once you get to the postseason, and if BG has any designs on competing with the best teams in the WCHA, the process has to be better or the results will not be.
Saturday, Nov. 23 – Minnesota State: This game was almost a direct opposite from Friday. BG scored two goals in about three minutes midway though the first period and I thought it was going to be a 5-0 win. But the Mavericks stopped the bleeding, got one in the second and tied it in the third before winning in OT.
It should be noted that these instances were the first time BG blew a third period lead this season. It doesn’t include the circus that was the third period in the second game against Ohio State because technically BG never led in the third period. For all we know, this will be the last time it happens this season. So four blown third period leads over the course of the season isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible either.
But when it happens in four straight games, that is a cause for concern. That leads to questions like, “what happened?” and “how can we fix this?” The problem is, I don’t think there is a simple answer to that question. Like, the first game against Ferris, it seemed like a mix of Ferris desperation and defensive brain farts. The next night was power play carelessness and having to kill a five-minute major. In the two games against Minnesota State, it just seemed like the Mavericks played better in the third period. It happens sometimes.
The problem here now is in this four-week stretch against Minnesota State, Ferris and Lake, BG is 2-3-1. To an extent, Ferris is excusable because that tie is the only blemish on the Bulldog’s record right now. And, to be completely honest, if you told be before the season that BG would go 2-2 against Minnesota State in the regular season and both losses would be in overtime, I would gladly have taken that. But the Minnesota State team BG played is not the same one that was picked to win the WCHA.
As of right now, I feel safe in saying Ferris is going to finish first in the WCHA. They’re four points clear of Bemidji, and have two games in hand on them, and are six points clear of BG. They’re at least seven clear of all the teams that have play fewer games, so they’re in the drivers seat. But the battle for No. 2 will be intense, and if BG misses out and finishes third by a point or two, we will look back at this stretch of games as the reason that happened.
I bring this up because the No. 1 seed in the WCHA tournament with face Huntsville, which is as easy as it gets. The No. 2 team will host Anchorage, and as we have documented Anchorage is not good when they are playing outside of Alaska. So that No. 2 seed is going to be very important.
(Note: don’t listen to me, I’m an idiot. Only the top eight teams make the playoffs. Why they then call it the “Final Five” makes no sense to me.)
Anyway, getting back on topic here, BG closes out this month at Lake this weekend. The Lakers have fallen back to earth after their hot start, and are 3-3 in conference play. If BG wants to consider this month a success, it needs a sweep this weekend. The Falcons have had Lake’s number in recent games, and should be playing a little angry this weekend. That should be a good recipe.
Offensive tidbits: Obviously the headliner of the weekend was Mark Cooper’s hatty Friday night, but Adam Berkle also had a pretty good weekend.
He had a goal and an assist Friday night. The goal he scored showed how he has the ability to take over games when he is in the zone, stealing a pass and scoring a shorty on a breakaway. He was originally credited with Cooper’s first goal, which would have added to the greatness of the game. But three points is still pretty impressive.
On another note, Bryce Williamson ended his point drought with an assist in each game, so that’s good to see him get on the scoresheet again. But Ben Murphy’s drought extended to seven games. He hasn’t registered a point since scoring a goal Nov. 1 against Anchorage.
BG is still third in the league, scoring three goals per game on the dot. That’s a lot better than the 1.9 per game from two years ago, or even the 2.4 from last year.
Defense: It hasn’t been bad, but BG has been struggling a bit the past few weeks. It has now given up three or more goals in four straight games, and in five of the last six. The Falcons are still third in the league, giving up 2.5 goals per game.
Both goalies have almost identical numbers. Tommy Burke has a 2.32 goals-against average and a .907 save percent. Tomas Sholl has a 2.28 GAA and a .910 save percent. But their disparity in records in actually kind of funny. Burke is 4-0-3, while Sholl is 2-5-0.
The problem is offensive support. In Sholl’s seven starts, BG has scored 17 goals. HOWEVAH, if you take out the 7-0 win against Colgate, that means in the other six, BG has scored only 10 times. For you non-math majors our there, that’s 1.67 per game. So even if you’re only giving up 2.28 per game, you’re still going to lose.
Conversely, in Burke’s seven starts, BG has scored 25 goals. Since we’ll be fair and take out the outlier here too, if you take out the 6-1 win against Anchorage, in the other six games, BG has still scored 19 times. That’s 3.16 per game, which helps explain why Burke is undefeated this season.