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 on Twitter @Ryan_Satkowiak or to Ryan@bgsuhockey.com.
There’s been a uhh … fad going on in college hockey this year that I think is funny but a lot of other people probably don’t. Teams are fighting a lot.
A lot is probably — undoubtedly — a stretch, because if you watch the NHL even on a semi-regular basis, you see fights every night. But comparatively speaking, it seems like there have been an abnormal amount of violent scraps in college this year.
Earlier in 2013, Ohio State’s women’s hockey team and Bemidji State got into it after a game. I’m sure you’ll remember a week ago, Ferris and Minnesota State got into it. Last weekend, RPI and Union got into it. It was probably the best of the three if we were actually going to judge “fight quality.”
Personally, I think fighting in the NHL is dumb. Not advocating for it to be banned, but too many times you’ll see a guy lay a perfectly legal, hard hit, and then that guy will have to answer to some meathead like Colton Orr because he “didn’t like” the hit. Sure, there can be a time and a place for a fight. But it’s become too much of either a show (Canucks-Flames, anyone?) or like the situation I just mentioned.
To offer a clear distinction, these college instances aren’t “fights.” They’re full-on line brawls, or, in the case of RPI-Union, a giant brouhaha. I have no opinion on these. They’re funny to watch.
Onto BG, the Falcons once again coughed up a third-period lead to Lake on Friday, the third-straight game against the Lakers such an occurrence happened, but made up for it with a Saturday-night shellacking. Yep, I just used shellacking in an article. It’s safe to say my Monday has been made.
Return of the Carp: Four games played, three goals and an assist, I think it’s safe to say Ryan Carpenter is back.
In a little bit of line shuffling, coach Chris Bergeron broke up the Bryce Williamson-Mark Cooper-Ben Murphy line, moving Williamson to a line with Dan DeSalvo and Matt Pohlkamp, moving Cooper to left wing and throwing Carpenter in between him and Murphy.
It was a pretty good weekend for both units. The DeSalvo line combined for a goal and five assists; the Carpenter line combined for five goals and three assists, with two of each of those coming from Cooper.
Throw in the Brent Tate-Cam Wojtala-Adam Berkle line, which has a lot of big, mean and nasty, and BG’s top three lines look pretty good right now. Berkle scored three times this weekend, while Wojtala and Tate each chipped in an assist.
In sad line news, with Andrew Wallace being scratched, Bergeron has broken up the “Wally and the Q’s” line. This weekend it was “Mohler and the Q’s,” which I suppose can grow on me. As long as Pierre-Luc Mercier and Kevin Dufour are on the same line and I can continue to make these terrible jokes, I’ll be a happy camper.
Department of ‘what?’: BG pretty much ensured it would not blow a third-period lead for the fourth straight Lake game Saturday by scoring five unanswered goals after Lake opened the scoring.
But, in reality, Lake didn’t really open the scoring. BG opened the scoring on itself by potting an empty-net own-goal. If you were watching/listening to the game/have seen this before, you know how this can happen. If you don’t, we’ll here. With a delayed penalty coming to Lake, BG pulled Tomas Sholl to get an extra attacker, since the first time Lake possessed the puck, the play would be stopped. It’s a very low-risk play that can lead to a goal.
Howevah, it’s not a no-risk play, as BG found out the hard way. A BG pass to the point missed everyone and went all the way down the ice and into the empty net. Since Lake never touched the puck, the goal counts and you’re left to shake your head in dismay. And yes, it might be the only time in your life when you look at the box score and see the scoring was opened with an empty-net goal.
Shollshank Redemption: As you might have inferred above, Sholl was back in net Saturday for the first time in 2014, his first start since defeating Robert Morris in late December. Tommy Burke had started the previous five games, and prior to allowing four to Lake on Friday, was playing outstandingly so the fact that he was starting every night was not really a surprise.
Well, giving him the night off a day after allowed four on 31 shots is as good of a time as any, and Sholl took advantage of getting back in the crease. He stopped 25 of 26 shots to lower his goals-against average to 2.44 and get his save percent back above .900 to .904. Plus, it was his fourth win in 11 games this season so that’s nice to see him get rewarded.
Will the events of this weekend lead to a reintroduction of the goalie split? Your guess is as good as mine. Obviously Sholl’s start can only help his case. But if Burke comes out and pitches a 35-save shutout against Michigan Tech on Friday, would you be surprised to see him back in net Saturday?
On another note, how funny would it have been if that empty-netter was the only one BG allowed Saturday? That obviously didn’t go on Sholl’s record. Would he still have gotten credit for a shutout if he stopped 26 of 26? I’m asking because I honestly have no idea. I don’t know how many times in the history of hockey that a team has given up only one goal in a game where that goal was an empty-netter.
Points: Also in the department of weird, BG’s top six point producers have already set career-highs in points. They are listed below:
DeSalvo (27, previous was 25)
Williamson (23, previous was 19)
Cooper (20, previous was 16)
Freibergs (18, previous was 7)
Tate (17, previous was 13)
Murphy (14, previous was 13)
What does this mean? Well, other than the fact that BG finally has a good offense and the players are naturally progressing in the way they should be, not a whole lot. I just thought it was an interesting tidbit.
Sloat’s back: Jake Sloat had not played in a non-exhibition hockey game for BG since March 17, 2012, until Saturday.
You may remember Sloat suffered a pretty serious broken leg in last season’s exhibition against Wilfred Laurier, an injury that ended up keeping him out all of last season. He played in this year’s exhibition against Wilfred Laurier, but had not been in a game since.
Sloat was a guy I thought was going to take a leap forward last year and become a key cog for BG on the blueline. Obviously his injury prevented that from happening. Then whether it was just him having difficulty getting back to where he needed to be, or him getting passed on the depth chart, he never had a chance to crack the lineup.
He posted an assist Saturday, so maybe he’ll find himself in the lineup more as the season goes along. As a senior (who I’m fairly certain would be eligible to come back next year should he and the coaching staff want that to happen because he missed a whole season do to injury) it would be a great comeback story if he is able to.
Standings fun: With 23 points, BG still sits third in the WCHA, five points behind Ferris and one behind Mankato. However, with two more games played than both, catching either seems to be a long shot.
As long as BG continues to win at the pace it is right now, a first-round home playoff series is likely to happen. I say likely, because if I said “for certain,” it would be for certain that BG would lose the five straight and I’d look like an idiot. Well, a bigger idiot than I already am.
Where the fun comes in is places five to nine. It’s a mess. Bemidji is fifth with 20 points in 20 games played, then you have Northern with 17 points in 16 games played. They’re still the one team that can jump into the top three without any help.
In seventh, eighth and ninth, you have Lake, Michigan Tech and Alaska all tied with 16 points. Lake and Tech have played 18 conference games, while Alaska has 20.
If the season ended today, BG would host Northern Michigan in the first round. The odds of that same pairing happening at the end of the season is slim and none. So while we’re heading into the home stretch of the season, things are far from settled in the league.