Adam Berkle, Dan DeSalvo and Tyler Spezia provided Bowling Green with quality play last weekend.
The line totaled three goals and five assists during the Falcons’ split with Minnesota State in the Ice Arena.
Spezia had all three of the goals, including the game-winner Saturday with 12:28 left in the game to break a 1-1 tie.
The Falcons finished with a 3-1 win against MSU, which began the series ranked 12th nationally. The Mavericks also were the coaches pick to win the Western Collegiate Hockey Association championship.
DeSalvo dumped the puck into the MSU zone to start the play on Spezia’s winner.
Berkle then forced MSU’s Zach Palmquist, one of the best defenseman in the league, to turn the puck over.
Berkle and Palmquist tied each other up off to the left of the net, but Berkle kicked the puck across the crease to Spezia, who scored with a backhander from the right side of the crease.
“(Berkle and DeSalvo) were both really good, and (Spezia) just seems to come and play all the time,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said. “He seems to bring the same effort every day. Even on Friday, they were pretty good.
“They were dangerous every time they were out there.”
They combined for 13 shots on goal and an on-ice rating of plus-9 in the series. The three have a good mix of speed and skill and size and strength.
Spezia was added to the line for the series.
“(Spezia’s) energy and his speed brings something to the line, and we knew it was just a matter of time before Berkle and DeSalvo were contributing offensively,” Bergeron said.
Berkle didn’t play well at Clarkson in BG’s previous series, and DeSalvo injured his ankle in the first game of the series and didn’t play the next night.
Berkle and DeSalvo, who are seniors, are BG’s top two returning players offensively.
DeSalvo centers the line, with Spezia on left wing and Berkle on right wing.
“It’s nice to see (Berkle and DeSalvo) getting rewarded, and it’s nice to see Tyler scoring,” Bergeron said.
HELPING: Spezia, a freshman, has played regularly. He has four goals and on-ice rating of plus-4 in eight games. Now, he’s skating on BG’s top line.
“It gives him all kinds of confidence,” Bergeron said of Spezia. “It gives him confidence knowing that we have confidence in him, putting him out there with those guys, and they’re garnering confidence in him by his play.
“All these freshmen want is an opportunity, and what you do with that opportunity is on you. Tyler’s taken advantage of his opportunity to this point.”
Spezia has taken just one penalty, and skates on the power-play and penalty-killing units.
“The toughest thing (for a freshman) is to stay focused and make it an every day thing where you’re consistent with what you’re doing,” Bergeron said.
“To this point, he’s been consistent. But we all know it’s tough for freshmen to stay at that level over the course of a year. We’re not going to expect his level to come down a little. We’re going to continue to try to push, but we know it’s difficult.”
GOALIES: Bergeron said no decision has been made on which goalies will travel to Alaska (Fairbanks) for BG’s WCHA series Friday and Saturday. The team departs for Fairbanks Wednesday afternoon.
Junior Tommy Burke, sophomore Tomas Sholl and freshman Chris Nell each played two of BG’s first six games. Sholl and Burke then played last weekend against MSU.
The three have combined for a 2.23 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage.
“Probably similar to what it was last year … good, but not great, not bad,” Bergeron said when asked to characterize BG’s goaltending. “We need it to be great to win at the level we want to win at. I don’t think our goaltending has cost us games.”
In seven of BG’s eight games, the goalies have allowed at least one bad goal — a goal on a shot they should have stopped.
The only game not to have a bad goal was a 5-0 win Oct. 17 at Alabama-Huntsville.
“It has to stop,” Bergeron said of the bad goals. “It’s unacceptable. (The goalies) don’t want that (the bad goals) The focus is to eliminate those goals.”
TATE: Falcon junior forward Brent Tate (groin) isn’t expected to play this weekend, Bergeron said.
He has missed the last three games after reinjuring the groin Oct. 24 in the first game against Clarkson. He originally suffered the injury during BG’s season opener Oct. 10 against Miami.
“He’s skating full, but I don’t think we’ll see Brent Tate this weekend,” Bergeron said. “We’ve made mistakes with Brent in the past, and we’ve tried to rush him back when he’s not 100 percent. That’s 100 percent my fault.
“We have to be careful this time. This is not something we want to be dealing with in February. If we rush him back now, it potentially could be. We rushed him back at Clarkson, and we didn’t need to do that. That’s something I need to learn from.”
Tate is one of BG’s best players, providing scoring and a physical presence. He also skates on the power-play and penalty-killing units.
“By 100 percent, I mean he’s got to get four, five, six good, hard practices under his belt as part of his rehab,” Bergeron said. “It’s not just off the ice rehab. It’s on the ice. Let him be involved in those situations in practice that he’s going to be involved in the game, and then we’ll know he’s 100 percent.”
PROGRESS: Senior defenseman Connor Kucera continues to recover from an injured shoulder. He’s missed the last five games after injuring the shoulder during BG’s series opener Oct. 17 at Alabama-Huntsville.
“He’s progressing nicely,” Bergeron said. “He’s skating, conditioning and doing footwork stuff, not puck work because wee want to make sure the shoulder’s healed. All indications are he’s maybe a little ahead of schedule.“
Kucera still is expected to be sidelined for a total of 4-6 weeks.